Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Tears as rage teen jailed

A disqualified teen driver who smashed up a bus in a fit of road rage outside a police station has cried after being sentenced to at least six months in jail.

Michael Peter Hotait, 19, who had already lost his licence for mid-range drink driving in May, took an iron bar to the side doors and back window of a bus which had pulled out in front of him on George Street at the Rocks on August 4.

On August 10 Hotait was caught by police driving in Pagewood and two days later was again caught and charged with driving while disqualified.

Hotait, who pleaded guilty to the offences, was sentenced to nine months in jail with a non-parole period of six months.

He will not be able to drive until at least December 2012 as imposed by Waverley Local Court and perhaps an additional decade if the Roads and Traffic Authority imposes its own penalty, the court heard.

Around the time of the road rage incident Hotait had been made homeless after his parents took out an Apprehended Violence order against him.

He had been living in his car and driving to friends' houses to take showers, the court heard.

In sentencing Hotait, Magistrate Jacqueline Milledge said his history of traffic offences, including driving as a learner without supervision, showed he was a person who continued to defy the law.

"Nothing stops you in your tracks," Ms Milledge said. "You completely flout the law."

Ms Milledge acknowledged that Hotait had encountered a tough period in his life, but the fact that his own family had taken out an AVO against him said "more about you than your parents".

"The community can't wait for people like you to get their act together," she told him.

During the road rage incident, which occurred outside a police station, bystanders were forced to scurry out of the way as Hotait drove his car on the footpath as he left the scene.

Ms Milledge said the bus driver had been "out of line" in cutting across double lines to overtake, but she was scathing of Hotait for taking the matters into his own hands.

"You're not his judge and jury, you should not have brought out an iron bar and done damage to that bus," she said.

If that had been the only incident a non-custodial sentence would have been considered, however Ms Milledge said jail time was the only sentence that would deter him in the future.

"The message from the courts has got to be a strong message. It's got to be loud and clear that we will not tolerate young people like you defying the road rules and putting other people in danger," she said.

Hotait, who was supported in court by two friends, cried as he was taken into custody.

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