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I Fought the Law - and the Law Lost [2007/03]

 

Picture the scene: it’s a cold, dry Saturday in December, the Essex roads are awash with dawdling Christ­mas shoppers and my tyres cold I exit a 30 limit into a 60 following a Micra. there’s 150 yards of clear road ahead observations done, I roll-on in fourth and gracefully snick past no drama Amongst tire on­coming traffic is a police patrol car I think nothing of its presence as I roll-off for the approaching round­about. The next couple of miles are non-descript A-Road, the dullest part of my 35-mile route I make good progress through the traffic whilst observing the speed limit until the Bl418: twistier with reduced visibil­ity After a couple of miles I enter the 30 limit at 30 mph (I’m pedantic about 30’s and 40’s).

Within half a mile, I observed a patrol car on my mirror with blue lights flashing, rapidly closing on me; I move to the near side and slow to around 20mph .what’s this?   Oh, the Officer wants to talk to me. I stop at the side of the road, key-off, dismount and promptly remove my crash helmet. As the officer approaches he says: ‘Do you have any points on your licence’? ‘No’ I reply ‘You do now’ he quips The officer believed I was speeding, his evidence: Laser? Radar? Camera? Timed or followed over a set distance? No: he had to drive ‘really fast’ to catch me up (yes! - and he was deadly serious), twenty minutes later arid I’m in the book In the days that followed, I took some advice from Rapid, who took the view there was insufficient evidence to prove the charge, and from White Dalton Solicitors They were very helpful and gave me some great guidance (not all common sense either unless you’re a regular I guess) For them to handle the case would cost at least £500 and in these particular circumstances they did not recommend it: ‘go to court; be the clean-cut, law-abiding citizen; keep it simple; talk tothe magistrates; the Prosecution have to prove you committed the offence’ It was a tough decision: £60 and three points on a clean license or risk worse in court.  I chose the latter.

In February I received the officer’s statement; it was fundamentally flawed.  incorrect speed limits, inaccurate road names/numbers, some laughable ‘quotes’ from me and some comedic statements of his own: ‘lent the vehicle from side to side in a racing style’.  Rapid put Dave Bruguier forward to be my Expert Witness; Dave prepared his witness statement, carefully and politely tearing strips off the Officer and stating there was no case to answer.  The officer had failed to follow procedure and hadn’t proved the offence.  After two adjournments the trial day arrived - ten months after the ‘offence’.

The Officer was questioned by the Prosecutor, he was very nervous and had a ‘less than average’ grasp of the English language.  He now added to his original written statement, claiming he had followed me at a set distance for a given duration and I was traveling at 95 mph hmmm….    At one point he asked to refer back to his original notes from 2003; the Clerk (very accommodating to unrepresented defendants) asked if the Defence had seen the notes and of course I had not. It was interesting to read the discrepancies between the notebook and his witness statement especially as the notebook did not support the prior statement regarding following at a set dis­tance After three quarters of an hour it was my turn to cross-examine the Officer. Whilst very nervous on the inside I was not letting it show. I started with the incorrect speed limit —  the National limit where I overtook the Micra that the Officer claimed was a 40-Zone and presented photographs of the signs to the court.   The local magistrates knew the road well and tried to remain expressionless.

The Officer stuttered and conceded he was mistaken and it just went down hill for him from there.  I asked him how long it took to slow down, turn around in traffic and accelerate to 60 mph: he said ‘just a few seconds’ more be­mused expressions in court.  At one point he stated he had traveled at 95 mph between the opposing vehi­cles for about a mile on a single carriageway stretch of road which is about two-and-a-half cars wide…. more stunned silence...  and everyone is thinking you’re either full of  **** or should be on trial for reckless driving. I took the stand and the Prosecutor went at me with everything she had: ‘I put it to you ‘ again and again for nearly half an hour.. .but I remained calm and courteous and simply replied ‘that was not the case’ I took every opportunity to add, ‘my advanced training has taught me to ‘etc.

Before I had even presented all my defence evidence the magistrates decided there was no case to answer and threw the charge out! The cost to the taxpayer: three court appearances, over £300 of expenses for Dave and myself, CPS resources for ten months, Prosecution Lawyer etc.. etc

It cost me a few quid to pursue, some wasted holiday allowance and a few beers at Folembray last year to thank Dave, Gary and Stuart, which they had certainly earned worth every penny when I think about it now. 

The moral of the story is threefold: Stand up for yourself,  Ride legal and Save your speed for the track.

 

(Reproduced with the permission of - Rapid Training) 

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