No jail for woman caught driving while banned 11th time

A NOOSAVILLE woman caught driving while disqualified for the 11th time has escaped serving jail time.

Christine Lee Kelly, 44, has been racking up disqualified driving charges for 20 years.

She was charged for an 11th time after police spotted her driving on Sunshine Beach Rd, Noosa Heads, on November 9.

Police prosecutor Sgt Tania FitzGerald told the Maroochydore Magistrates Court yesterday that police followed Ms Kelly's vehicle with lights and siren on for two minutes but she failed to stop, even when officers pulled up and spoke to her through her window.

Police ceased following her but went to her home later that night where she admitted driving.

"She said she had been driving to obtain medication for a sprained arm," Sgt FitzGerald said.

"She believed it was a medical emergency but had not attempted to call an ambulance."

Sgt FitzGerald submitted that a jail sentence of 14 months was in range and that Ms Kelly should serve at least a third of that behind bars.

But defence counsel Les Hanslow-Hastie said Ms Kelly had strong prospects of rehabilitation if she remained in the community.

Mr Hanslow-Hastie said she had only three disqualified driving offences in the past five years and had not re-offended in the past seven months.

"She has taken steps. She's sold the car," he said.

Mr Hanslow-Hastie said his client had endured a difficult life which had included drug addiction and psychiatric treatment, which was "no excuse for what she did", but she was now working with a case worker.

Magistrate Annette Hennessy said a jail term was warranted, but Ms Kelly was also in need of rehabilitation.

"For yourself and the community in the long term, you should be allowed to remain in the community and continue that rehabilitation," she said.

She sentenced the disability pensioner to 14 months' imprisonment with immediate parole, but warned her that any repeat offending would land her behind bars.

"Any offences of this nature would certainly see you serving a lengthy period of imprisonment," she said.

Ms Kelly was also disqualified from driving for four years.



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