EXCLUSIVE: Admitted ‘bad driver’ and The Voice host Darren McMullen is all smiles after bewildering a magistrate with his explanation for riding his Vespa in Sydney using his Californian licence – as he reveals a surprising new job
- Darren McMullen, 38, returned as the host of The Voice on Channel 9 this year
- The Glasgow-born presenter has appeared on The Masked Singer as the ‘Prawn’
- McMullen normally lives in Los Angeles where he has a California driver’s licence
- He was caught riding a scooter without a NSW permit in Sydney’s Double Bay
The Voice host Darren McMullen has left a Sydney magistrate’s head spinning with his explanation of why he was caught riding a motor scooter without a licence.
‘It’s very confused,’ Michael Barko said in Downing Centre Local Court. ‘I was losing track left, right and centre.’
McMullen was before the court on Tuesday pleading not guilt to driving after his application for a new New South Wales driver’s licence was refused.
His evidence included references to four different addresses in Sydney, three traffic run-ins with police and two licences issued in different countries.
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The Voice host Darren McMullen was before Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Tuesday (pictured) pleading not guilt to driving after his application for a new New South Wales driver’s licence was refused. The case confused magistrate Michael Barko
McMullen, who normally lives in Los Angeles, had believed he was entitled to drive on his California permit when pulled over riding his Vespa in Sydney’s eastern suburbs last year
Before McMullen got into the witness box to explain himself Mr Barko asked solicitor Michael Bowe what his client’s traffic record was like. ‘It’s not great,’ Mr Bowe said. McMullen is pictured with The Voice judge Delta Goodrem after accepting a Logie in 2015
The 38-year-old said he was currently employed as a newspaper travel writer and while he was now living in Rose Bay was a resident of the United States.
McMullen, who normally lives in Los Angeles, had believed he was entitled to drive on his California permit when pulled over in Sydney’s eastern suburbs last year.
Unfortunately for McMullen police were aware he had recently been refused a new NSW licence after he had been suspended from driving over a speeding offence.
Before McMullen got into the witness box to explain himself Mr Barko asked solicitor Michael Bowe what his client’s traffic record was like.
‘It’s not great,’ Mr Bowe said.
McMullen returned this year to host the ninth season of the musical talent show he fronted from 2012 to 2015, alongside TV personality Renee Bargh.
He was joined by judges Kelly Rowland, Boy George, Guy Sebastian and Delta Goodrem, with whom he reportedly had a brief relationship in 2012.
McMullen returned this year to host the ninth season of the musical talent show he fronted from 2012 to 2015, alongside TV personality Renee Bargh. He was joined by judges Kelly Rowland, Boy George, Guy Sebastian and Delta Goodrem
The star of television series House Husbands and SeaChange was nabbed driving without a NSW licence by Eastern Suburbs highway patrol officers about 8.30am on November 7 at Double Bay. He is pictured in Channel Nine’s rebooted version of SeaChange
The Sottish-born presenter’s problems with the law began when he was stopped on the state’s north coast while driving a car 30km/h over the speed limit in June last year.
McMullen said when he presented a California licence to a Byron Bay highway patrol officer the policeman destroyed it and told him he would be issued with a fine.
‘He cut my licence in half and said I can’t drive on a California licence,’ McMullen told the court. ‘He said you don’t have the right to drive in this country if you have a NSW licence that is current.
‘My understanding is as long as I wasn’t in the country for more than a three-month period over a calendar year I should be okay to drive on my California licence.’
McMullen, who was staying at a hotel while working, gave police an email address but it seems the fine was sent to his management company at inner-city Pyrmont.
According to McMullen, after returning to his Los Angeles home then coming back to Australia he did not receive any further notification about the fine.
On October 18 last year McMullen was pulled over again and told his NSW licence had expired.
The Sottish-born presenter’s problems with the law began when he was stopped on the state’s north coast while driving a car 30km/h over the speed limit in June last year
One week later McMullen went to the Roads and Maritime Services office at Bondi Junction where he was told his licence would be reissued if he paid the $903 Byron Bay fine.
McMullen said he settled that debt and but was still unable to get a new licence because of a ‘police block’ a manager at the RMS could not explain.
‘His exact words were “This is a really strange police block – I’ve never seen this before”,’ McMullen told the court.
The same day, according to McMullen, he changed his address on the RMS system to his new management at The Fordham Company which is based at Surry Hills.
[The RMS continued to list McMullen’s address as his old management company at Prymont until February this year].
McMullen then went to Waverley police station to try to resolve the block on his licence but after failed attempts to get the officer who issued the fine in Byron Bay on the phone gave up and went home.
He flew back to Los Angeles two days later and returned on November 6, not having been told his licence application had been refused.
About 8.30am the next day McMullen was pulled over yet again, this time at Double Bay, after passing an unmarked police care while riding a black Vespa.
Senior Constable Nicholas Rutgers from Eastern Suburbs highway patrol told McMullen his licence had been suspended for three months following his speeding offence.
Senior Constable Nicholas Rutgers (pictured) from Eastern Suburbs highway patrol pulled McMullen over as he rode his Vespa at Double Bay. ‘For someone who lives overseas you seem to have accumulated a lot of penalty notices in this state,’ the policeman told the TV host
‘For someone who lives overseas you seem to have accumulated a lot of penalty notices in this state,’ Senior Constable Rutgers had said.
‘To be blunt, you do the crime, you do the time. Unfortunately you won’t be going any further today, sir.’
McMullen, who provided the Double Bay address of a friend’s home where he was staying, told the officer his application for a new licence had been refused due to an outstanding fine which he had since paid.
‘I wasn’t aware that I had been suspended from driving in NSW,’ he told the court.
McMullen, who came to Australia as a teenager, got a NSW learner’s permit in February 1998 and had held a California licence since 2012.
Mr Bowe said his client had made ‘an honest and reasonable mistake’ about his NSW licence’s status but should have been allowed to drive anyway.
‘He had every right to drive on a California licence without a NSW licence,’ Mr Bowe said.
McMullen was seen on Australian screens late last year when he appeared as ‘The Prawn’ in the first season of the top-rating Masked Singer Australia. McMullen announced in January he was returning to The Voice, which he has previously hosted with Sonia Kruger and Faustina Agolley
Police prosecutor Sergeant Ross Mitchell said it would have been reasonable for McMullen to make further inquiries to find out if he held a valid NSW licence.
‘The steps that he’s carried out might have been honest but they’re not reasonable,’ he said.
Mr Barko said McMullen would have known his licence had been suspended when he was pulled over the last time if he had told the RMS of his latest address.
‘It’s been a most confusing case and that confusion has been brought about by the defendant,’ he said. ‘We wouldn’t be here today if he kept the RMS updated.
‘But the essence of this defence is that “I held a California licence and there’s no law against me using that licence if I drive for only a limited period in NSW.’
McMullen hosted The Voice from 2012 to 2015. He is pictured far left with season two judges (left to right) Delta Goodrem, Seal, Joel Madden and Ricky Martin
Mr Barko said he was satisfied McMullen’s belief was reasonable and dismissed the charge against him.
Outside court Sergeant Mitchell and Senior Constable Rutgers admitted they had no idea McMullen was the host of The Voice.
McMullen, who starred in the television series House Husbands and the rebooted SeaChange, appeared as ‘The Prawn’ in the first season of the top-rating Masked Singer Australia last year.
After the ninth season of The Voice aired on Channel 9 it was announced in August the format had been snatched by Channel 7 and Sonia Kruger would host the next series of the show.