Appeal allowed: fine and costs order reduced, spent conviction order imposed

In this Single Judge Appeal matter, we acted for the appellant who had originally been charged with an offence of feeding birds without using a rodent-proof receptacle. This obscure law was pursuant to the Council’s local laws, and carried a maximum penalty of $1,000. The appellant had been self-represented in the original Magistrates Court proceedings. In the Magistrates Court, the appellant sent in a letter and endorsed plea of not guilty, and the case was listed for trial. Unfortunately, the appellant did not appear at the trial due to a misunderstanding as to the nature of the hearing. This resulted in the appellant being convicted in their absence, and a $600 fine and costs of $2,500 being imposed.

The appellant attempted to appeal the conviction using the Magistrates Court review procedure in the Criminal Procedure Act. Again, the appellant was self-represented and was unsuccessful in this application.

The appellant came to us and we advised pursuing an appeal on two grounds, which were ultimately pursued to the Supreme Court. At the appeal hearing, we applied to add a further three grounds. Ultimately, our appeal challenged the decision to convict the appellant in her absence; the failure to make a spent conviction order; the amount of the fine; and the amount of the costs award. At the appeal hearing, we were successful in three of the grounds. This had the effect that the fine was reduced from $600 to $250, and the costs award was reduced from $2,500 to $450. Further, the appellant was granted a spent conviction order. The appellant was also awarded costs in the Supreme Court for the costs of the appeal.

This fantastic outcome meant that the appellant would not have a conviction on their record, and ultimately had to pay far less than was originally ordered.

The relevant newspaper article can be read here: Supreme Court grants spent conviction for Hamilton Hill woman’s birdfeeding-related charge, reduces fine | PerthNow

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