Judge's potshot at Volvo drivers stirs up a storm
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Thursday April 25 2002
Judge Robert Hall gets shirty with drivers in hats proceeding serenely along in their Volvos and Holden Kingswoods. But when he sympathised with a man who broke an 80-year-old's jaw in a fit of road rage, he stirred up a hornet's nest.
On Tuesday, Justice Hall sentenced 33-year-old former jockey Warren Keith Watts to 150 hours of community service with no conviction for breaking the jaw of Ronald Parry-Jones on the Gold Coast in July, 2000.
The judge said in Southport District Court that he sympathised with Watts, who struck Mr Parry-Jones after the elderly man had confronted him over being honked at and told to pull over.
"I'm often annoyed by Volvo and Kingswood drivers in their hats who drive more slowly and timidly than I think they should," said Judge Hall, 61.
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said it was wrong to categorise any one group as being bad drivers.
Volvo Car Australia public affairs manager Graeme Adam said the judge was "caught in a time warp" by singling out Volvo drivers. "Today's Volvo drivers drive convertibles or other high-performance models, are in their mid-40s and are a long way from this kind of non-existent stereotype," he said.
"If I could get a dollar for every time I stood in the street and looked for someone wearing a hat, driving a Volvo slowly, I think I'd finish up very poor."
Older Persons Speak Out chairwoman Val French said it was dangerous for judges to judge in terms of stereotypes. A spokesman for the judge declined to comment.