Friday, March 07, 2014

Phil’s not flying anytime soon

Phil Rudd's court victory, clearing his name of a charge of lying about drug use on a Civil Aviation Authority medical report, doesn't mean the rescinded certificate will be immediately reinstated.

The charge against the 59-year-old AC/DC drummer was dismissed by Judge Louis Bidois on Tuesday in a reserved decision following a judge alone defended hearing.

However, Rudd has been convicted on charge of failing to maintain a logbook, and was fined $750 plus $150 court costs.

Phil Rudd has been unable to fly his helicopter since the medical certificate was rescinded by the CAA, which alleged Phil lied about his drug use when applying for a private pilot license in June last year.

Police found 23 grams of cannabis on Phil's boat in 2010. He was convicted, and the conviction overturned on appeal. In evidence Phil says he hasn't used cannabis since then.

In his decision, Judge Bidois is critical of the wording of the questions in the CAA medical questionnaire and suggests changes in layout and content to remove exiting ambiguities.

There should be a specific section for drugs, legal and illegal – just as there is for smoking tobacco and alcohol, says the Judge.

While the question was intended to read as asking if the intending pilot had ever used legal or illegal recreational drugs or substances, it could also be honestly answered by someone who was not using at the time.

Judge Bidois added that Rudd admitted to a long history of not necessarily regular use of cannabis; and being asked about it two years after his arrest, it should have all come flooding back.

Rudd made other mistakes in the form, filling in his Christian name instead of his surname, and missing answers to several questions.

The Judge was also critical of Phil's attitude and demeanour, but found there was not enough evidence to convict him on the charge of wilfully giving a false answer.

In Wellington, CAA spokesman Mike Richards says the authority will examine the Judge's sentencing notes before making any decision on reinstating Rudd's rescinded medical certificate.

“What we are doing is we are reviewing the written judgement before we decide what to do next. We'll have a look at it, go through it with our legal team, and just determine what we need to do next.”

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