Barbecue biker hits snag
A Kiwi man who was caught riding his motorbike along the Eastern Freeway in Melbourne with a barbecue strapped to his body was fined A$800 (NZ$1007) today and lost his licence for one month.
Michael Wiles spotted the cast-off cooker on the nature strip where it had been left for rubbish collection and, not wanting to splurge on a new one, decided to pick it up and take it home.
The 29-year-old proceeded to thread his body through the barbecue's frame and popped up the grate in front of his helmet before setting off along the Eastern Freeway in Kew on January 27, 2008, reaching estimated speeds of 75km/h.
But his plan came unstuck when a stunned passer-by wound down their window and snapped a photograph, which was subsequently published in the media and led to Wiles's identity being revealed and a visit from the police.
In a further setback, the barbecue turned out to be "a dud", Wiles's lawyer Paul McClure told the Melbourne Magistrates Court today.
"That's probably why it was on the side of the road," Mr McClure said.
Magistrate Lionel Winton-Smith said he had never encountered a case such as this in all his years as a magistrate.
"I have seen people with perhaps bits of wood sticking out of the car, but a barbecue?" Mr Winton-Smith said.
"I'm trying to think of a word to describe it."
"Ridiculous?" Mr McClure suggested.
"Ridiculous. That will do," Mr Winton-Smith said.
It also led to a discussion in the court about the types of furniture often seen carried on motorcycles in Vietnam.
The court heard the incident was completely out of character for Wiles, who had emigrated to Australia from New Zealand five months before the event.
The court heard that, in the wake of his identity being revealed in the media, Wiles was approached by Barbecues Galore to star in their advertisements, but he decided it would be inappropriate to "glorify" his act of stupidity.
"The ramifications for him have been far greater than the offence itself," Mr McCLure said.
"He has been effectively used as an advertisement for what not to do on the roads, which he is wholly and completely in agreement with."
He also said Wiles had made full admissions to police and had apologised for his actions.