Magistrate Michael Holmes has found the larceny charge proven but dismissed it under Section 10a, meaning Rod Culleton will be free to continue as a senator for Western Australia.
In sentencing, Mr Holmes said Culleton acted “foolishly” during the dispute in 2014.
Mr Holmes said he took into account the extenuating delays in the case by Culleton, his good character, family ties and his work.
“The trivial nature of the offence … but I do find that you acted somewhat foolishly,” he told Culleton.
Mr Holmes ordered Culleton to pay $322.85 in compensation to the tow truck driver.
Rod Culleton has pleaded guilty to stealing a tow truck driver’s key after an altercation in April 2014.
Barrister Peter King said his client was acting in “self-defence” when the key was “flung” during the confrontation on April 11 in Guyra.
“[His actions] was to prevent a criminal trespass to his vehicle and the property on which he was located,” he told the court.
WA ONE Nation senator Rod Culleton will try and have a charge he stole a tow truck driver’s key in Guyra heard before a jury.
The newly-elected senator appeared in Armidale Local Court on Tuesday morning where the case was set down for hearing before the court was told he wants the matter dealt with in the district court.
Mr Culleton’s barrister Peter King lodged an application in the court to have the matter which he says is strictly indictable heard by a jury.
But Magistrate Michael Holmes is refusing to grant the application.
“This was never flagged, the matter is listed for hearing today,” he told the court.
“This was received yesterday morning at this courthouse … not very satisfactory is it.
“I would have expected more courtesy to the court.”
For the charge to be dealt with in the district court the larceny charge must relate to an item worth more than $5000.
Mr Holmes questioned the application and said Mr Culleton had been quoted in the media saying the charge related to “a $7.50 key”.
“He now puts the value at over $ 5000,” Mr Holmes said examining the papers.
“I think the charge sets the value of the obtaining the key the value of … just say about $300.
“That’s what the crown is relying on for the purposes of these proceedings.
“It is not a proper case for a jury.”
Mr King said there were two issues in the case and it should be heard before a jury.
There’s been … fair to say a beefing up of the prosecution case.- Barrister Peter King
“There’s been … fair to say a beefing up of the prosecution case,” Mr King told the court.
Mr Culleton has pleaded not guilty to the charge of stealing the key in Guyra on April 11, 2014.
According to court documents, Culleton is accused of the theft of a key for a Peterbuilt heavy haulage tow truck between 8am and 10am.
Court papers state the property is worth $322.85, with the tow truck owner seeking compensation for the purchase and installation costs after he was forced to get a new ignition switch and door locks.
The court has been told the prosecution has obtained further evidence with four extra statements served on the defence in the lead-up to the hearing, including two new statements.
The prosecutor said "discussions" were ongoing but "majority" of the prosecution witnesses were ready for the hearing today.
More to come.
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