Former Leeton mayor Paul Maytom is calling for justice system accountability after a Stanbridge man was fined for breaching COVID restrictions in September 2021.
Mark Thomas said he was recovering from leg surgery and was unable to drive at the time of his infringement.
Mr Thomas said him and his son were pulled over by highway patrol while on their way to Leeton to pick up farming supplies and were each given a $1000 fine.
According to the NSW public health orders at the time, passengers were not allowed in cars unless they were a member of the same household and their presence was on compassionate grounds.
Mr Thomas said his son was living with him and that doctors had told him not to drive while recovering from surgery, meaning his son had to drive instead.
He said he was unaware that he breached any rules, and eventually had a magistrate reduce his fine to $421 in January 2022.
"The judge said 'I can see that you honestly did not know the law, I don't know the laws half the time, so I'll let you off with a reduced fine'," Mr Thomas said.
"I didn't do anything wrong but I still had to pay.
"It's just revenue raising. The government lost a lot of money and now they've got to make it up anyway they can," he added.
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Mr Maytom, who was the Leeton Shire mayor at the time, said he wanted to help Mr Thomas because he was certain the father and son had done nothing wrong.
"The public health orders clearly said what the rules were, so how could a magistrate determine differently?" Mr Maytom said.
"It's unjust, unfair and unwarranted."
Mr Thomas said he was forced to pay his fine after having $65 added for late payments and being threatened with loss of license.
Mr Maytom also said he was surprised to learn that only 18 per cent of fines issued throughout the Riverina had been paid.
"There's a lot of people that haven't paid any fines and yet Mark and his son were threatened with loss of license if they didn't pay," Mr Maytom said..
"If that's justice, then we've got a system that's broken."
After receiving little help from ministers and the state member, Mr Maytom said he was determined to keep fighting Mr Thomas' case as well as others in similar situations.
"I don't want to point a finger at this magistrate but the court system needs to know what the department of health is saying," Mr Maytom said. "Otherwise, how can you make a ruling?"
"I'm going to take it through the NSW health department to ensure their rules are understood by the court system.
"Then the next step is to ensure the magistrates themselves are understanding of what the rules are."
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