A HEXHAM man with an appalling record of driving offences this week had an appeal against a jail sentence struck out after he failed to attend court.
Ronald Keeble, 47, of Chatsworth Road, had appealed against the severity of a one-month jail sentence imposed in Warrnambool Magistrates Court in February after he pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified and breaching an intervention order.
Keeble has three prior convictions for driving while disqualified and nine for unlicensed driving.
Last year he was involved in a controversial appeal case in the County Court after pleading guilty in a magistrates court to his ninth charge of unlicensed driving. He was jailed for a month.
In August last year Keeble appealed against the severity of the sentence to the County Court, which heard that the driving offences had also breached a three-month suspended jail sentence.
At the appeal, Judge Bill Stuart found that a combination of factors led to exceptional circumstances, which allowed Keeble to avoid serving the suspended jail sentence. Instead, he imposed a new sentence of two months’ imprisonment which was suspended for six months.
Judge Stuart noted that Keeble would not have breached the County Court suspended sentence if a “more realistic” penalty had been handed down in the magistrates court.
However, what was not known by the County Court judge was that Keeble had already been caught driving again just two months before his appeal.
On Tuesday this week Keeble requested an adjournment of his appeal in the Warrnambool County Court, telling Judge James Montgomery he had medical issues after suffering a neck injury on New Year’s Eve.
Judge Montgomery told Keeble he would adjourn the appeal hearing for a day so the appellant could organise his medical appointments around serving one month in jail.
Keeble was due in court again at 10am yesterday but he failed to attend and Judge Montgomery struck out the appeal. Keeble will now have to serve one month in jail — his first time behind bars.
The latest case relates to police claims that on June 29 last year — while on appeal bail — Keeble drove in an attempt to stop his 15-year-old daughter leaving his Hexham property with her 17-year-old boyfriend.
The daughter and her friend locked themselves in a vehicle. Police arrived and said Keeble went from being co-operative to intimidating.
That behaviour breached an intervention order that was previously granted covering the girl.
A solicitor said Keeble was only concerned for his daughter’s welfare. But magistrate Jonathan Klestadt said at the time that Keeble had not held a licence for a decade but continued to drive.
The magistrate said Keeble was a repeat offender but 13 times was not going to be lucky for the defendant, who had not previously served a jail term for his driving offences.
“It’s absurd,” Mr Klestadt said, “you’ve used up all your luck.”