News

Mistake puts mum in watchhouse

Harmony Henke was wrongfully put in the Maroochydore watchhouse with her son Xavier due to an apparent data discrepancy.
Harmony Henke was wrongfully put in the Maroochydore watchhouse with her son Xavier due to an apparent data discrepancy. Kari Bourne

A NAMBOUR mother who wound up with her baby in a police watchhouse on charges because of an apparent data discrepancy plans to complain to the Criminal Misconduct Commission.

Harmony Henke, 29, spent five months trying to clear her name after she was charged with driving on a suspended licence for points which she did not accumulate.

The saga began on June 28 last year when Ms Henke, who was on a provisional licence and good behaviour driving order, was caught doing 72kmh in a 60kmh zone on her way to pick up her older children.

She was seven-and-a-half months pregnant, sick and had just vomited in the back seat, and the penalty was waived after she wrote a letter pleading her case.

A subsequent speed camera penalty was also waived after a friend admitted driving her car.

But Ms Henke was pulled over on October 31 by police who she said told her that she was driving on a suspended licence for an accumulation of points and she would have to sort out her innocence in court.

She said she was pulled up twice more last year between court dates, even though she had been assured by Queensland Transport and the police camera department that she could drive.

She said she abandoned a court appearance in the belief that she had no charge left to face.

Ms Henke said the police officer who pulled her up the third time eventually confirmed her belief that she should not have a points suspension and to go to Maroochydore police station the next day to have the matter corrected.

She went to the station and ended up being sent to the watchhouse with her six-month-old to be “processed” on charges of failing to appear in court and driving on a suspended licence. Ms Henke said the situation was ridiculous.

Acting police superintendent Mark Henderson said police would have been acting only on the data available to them. He said officers had done everything possible to minimise her time at the watchhouse charge counter with her baby but it was a matter of procedure.

The charges against Ms Henke were dismissed after she produced an affidavit from Queensland Transport confirming she had no traffic infringements during the past 12 months. The CMC has advised Ms Henke to make a formal complaint.

WHAT HAPPENED TO HARMONY

March 10, 2010: Placed on 12 month good behaviour driving order for driving unaccompanied and without L-plates while a learner

June 28: Fined for speeding. Penalty later waived

August 24: Speed camera fine. Penalty later waived

August 31: Stopped for driving on a suspended licence

November 25: Pulled over for driving on suspended licence. Ms Henke remains in contact with Queensland Transport and police camera unit who assure her that paperwork is being completed and she is okay to drive

December 19: Court appearance. Adjourned

February 3, 2011: Was to appear in court but after speaking to police next door, left thinking matter was sorted

February 24: Pulled over for RBT at Landsborough. Check shows licence suspended. Taken to station. Policeman confirms her story, sends her to Maroochydore to correct matter

February 25: Fronts Maroochydore police station. Eventually taken to watchhouse, with baby, charged with failing to appear on February 3 and driving on a suspended licence

March 16: Court appearance. Adjourned so she can obtain letter from QT

March 30: Produces QT letter to court. Charges dismissed



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