New magistrate on circuit

THE word around the Tweed Heads Local Court is to expect tougher sentences from new magistrate Nicholas Reimer.

Mr Reimer told the Tweed Daily News yesterday that everybody did have different attitudes, but he did not expect to be too much different from his predecessor, Jeff Linden.

"I have known him (Mr Linden) for a long time; we operate pretty much the same," Mr Reimer said.

Mr Reimer has swapped his Lismore post with Mr Linden, as it is policy for magistrates to change circuit every five years.

He has spent the past 18 years as a magistrate, first in metropolitan Sydney, then Newcastle before moving to the North Coast.

"I have been in the area for eight years all up, I moved here in 2000," Mr Reimer said.

Before moving to the bench he was a solicitor for 17 years in Sydney and Penrith.

He said the North Coast had a definite slower pace and there were a lot more people growing cannabis.

The first two days of Mr Reimer's time on the Tweed circuit this week were relatively quiet following the Christmas break, but no doubt the lists will soon be overflowing following the 83 drink-drivers caught in those two weeks.

He said the Lismore courts were similar to the Tweed in that respect, as both had a lot of drink-driving offenders appearing.

But there was a lot more area to cover up here than in Lismore, with court sitting in Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah and Byron Bay.

On the Lismore circuit Mr Reimer gained a lot of experience working with the Aboriginal community around Casino, which was able to use the "circle sentencing" option for offenders.

"It is a special type of sentencing; an application comes to the court for the person to be referred to a panel of Aboriginal elders, and at a meeting the elders discuss an appropriate sentence," Mr Reimer said.

He said five or six courts around New South Wales did circle sentencing, and while Tweed Heads wasn't one of them there was "forum sentencing" available on the Tweed, which was similar, but not just for Aboriginals.

Mr Reimer was wasting no time getting acquainted with the area yesterday and was out during his lunch break working out a local mental clinic.

The Tweed could be Mr Reimer's last career move, as he expects to retire in about 18 months.

"I will only be here until some time next year," he said.

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