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Hamilton not in Melbourne for court date, pays fine UPDATE
Lewis Hamilton
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton swerved a conviction but not a $500 fine after a court hearing in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The 2008 world champion, who did not travel to Australia for the hearing, was arrested, charged and summonsed for driving dangerously near the Albert Park circuit during March's grand prix weekend.

He was represented by a lawyer in Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, who pleaded guilty on the 25-year-old Briton's behalf.

Lawyer Sandip Mukerjea said the McLaren driver, who addressed two letters to the court, suffered "embarrassment, humiliation and distress" over the incident due to the widespread media coverage.

In one of the letters, Hamilton said the incident was due to a "momentary lapse of judgment" that had caused "immense" publicity that was a "form of punishment".

He also insisted that he was "in control of the car at all times".

His lawyer asked that a conviction not be recorded because it may impede Hamilton's ability to travel internationally.

The FIA also provided the court with a character reference.

The magistrate said Hamilton escaped conviction because it was his first offense, but "this is about somebody in a responsible position behaving like a hoon".

"It doesn't show the general application of the level of responsibility and maturity that he must use every day on the race track," added magistrate Clive Alsop.

08/23/10 (GMM)  Lewis Hamilton is not travelling to Australia early this week despite being due in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

The McLaren driver was arrested in the city earlier this year for dangerous driving in a road car near the F1 circuit, later receiving an official charge and court summons for August 24.

But with this weekend's Belgian grand prix now looming, the News of the World tabloid in Britain said Hamilton, 25, will be represented in court by a lawyer.

"It was something small," he is quoted as saying.  "You pay the price and learn from it."

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