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Man takes 'fake' parking fine to court and wins

Parking infringement notice, parking ticket, parking fine.
Parking infringement notice, parking ticket, parking fine. Warren Lynam

IN A David and Goliath battle, a Brisbane doctor spent nine months contesting a Sunshine Coast Council parking fine and won.

When Dr Joshua Mann arrived at the Sand Dunes Hotel in Mudjimba on October 2, 2016 to visit his wife, he was told by staff to park on a grassed area across the road as they had no available carparks.

But, when he returned to his car he found a $91 fine from council which stated he was parked on a nature strip "adjacent to a length of road in a built-up area", meaning he was parked illegally.

After being told by council, "just because someone told you it was legal, doesn't make it legal", Dr Mann decided to take it to the courts after doing some research which led him to believe the council was wrong in defining the area as built-up.

 

Dr Joshua Mann (pictured with his wife) contested a Sunshine Coast Council parking fine in District Court and won.
Dr Joshua Mann (pictured with his wife) contested a Sunshine Coast Council parking fine in District Court and won. Contributed

"Everyone told me just to pay the fine. I just didn't think it was right," Dr Mann said.

"Because I could afford to fight it, I wanted to fight it."

In Caloundra Magistrates Court on May 8, 2017, Dr Mann was found guilty of the offence, fined $91, ordered to pay court costs of $92.90 and the council's costs of $1250.

Not happy with the result, Dr Mann decided to appeal the decision in Brisbane District Court, potentially facing $9000 in costs if he lost.

"Lots of times I had doubts if I could continue it," he said.

In November last year, Barrister William Ness - described by Dr Mann as "supportive, professional and patient" - successfully argued the area was not built-up as it did not satisfy the criteria which states there needs to be buildings no more than 100m apart, continuing for at least 500m of the road.

Dr Mann said he believed the council's head of training was present in court and that "they said they would retrain their staff to amend their definition of a built area".

With several other cars parked in the area at the same time as Dr Mann, he said he couldn't be sure how many people had been stung by false fines.

Council has been contacted for comment.

A council spokesperson said in 2017, 26 infringements were issued in Mudjimba Esplanade and "5290 infringements across the Sunshine Coast for 'stopping on a path, dividing strip, nature strip, painted island or traffic island' in accordance with the State Government legislation".

"In 2017, 28 parking infringements were progressed to determination before the court," the spokesperson said.

"This infringement issued at Mudjimba Esplanade was the only one to be overturned."

Topics:  appeal brisbane district court caloundra magistrates court editors picks law parking fines sunshine coast regional council


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