A TALENTED footballer who stole a taxi in a drunken prank in Tamworth has copped a $350 fine in court.
Joshua Peter Schmiedel only drove the cab from Peel Street, around the corner and jumped out of the car at the intersection of Marius and Bourke streets, but the joyride has cost him a criminal conviction.
The 30-year-old footballer was celebrating his former club’s win in the grand final in Tamworth, when he and a few mates tried to catch a taxi from a pub in Peel Street shortly after 10.30pm on September 10, last year.
Solicitor Andrew O’Halloran told Tamworth Local Court on Tuesday morning his client’s actions were “simply lunacy, idiocy” and “a ridiculous and compulsive prank” that “was entirely unplanned”.
“It was a poorly thought-out prank or decision,” he told the court, adding Schmiedel had personally apologised to both the licensee of the hotel and written a letter to the taxi co-operative.
It was a poorly thought-out prank or decision.Solicitor Andrew O'Halloran
The court was told Schmiedel was a talented footballer who had toured Samoa and Fiji, but had recently married and returned home to Tamworth, working in the mines.
Mr O’Halloran said his client had been given “a leave pass” and had been consuming alcohol to celebrate the grand final win.
“One would hope she has withdrawn the leave pass,” Acting Magistrate Mal MacPherson replied, examining the police facts.
Mr O’Halloran said it was “an impulsive prank, the taxi itself was undamaged”, and only driven a short distance before Schmiedel had “the presence of mind” to stop, pullover and get out of the cab and alert the licensee who drove the taxi driver to his car.
According to police facts tendered after Schmiedel pleaded guilty to taking and driving a conveyance, the group of men got into the cab, before the driver left his seat to assist them to put the seats down.
At this moment Schmiedel got behind the wheel and when the driver got out, he took off up the street.
Police were alerted and tried to comb the vehicle for forensic evidence but it was a footage from the taxi that identified Schmiedel.
It’s an act of stupidity.Acting magistrate Mal MacPherson
Mr MacPherson said he had to impose a conviction, and a fine of $350 for the incident.
“It’s an act of stupidity,” he said.
“He gave himself up, he clearly realised after 100m what a stupid act it was.
“That’s all in his favour.”