Not On The Phone


The offence just did not happen! It is one PC’s word against my own – no witnesses other than my 13 year old son, who was a passenger in my van when I was stopped and who had used my phone to call his best mate a few minutes before the alleged offence was supposed to have occurred!

The PC scrolled down my last numbers dialled and when he saw a number had been dialled a few minutes previously stated “that’s when I saw you”! His witness statement, received with my summons today, is a lie – but how do I defend myself against an Officer – what evidence must they produce to get a conviction.

This is a matter of principle and, as a van driver, I cannot afford to have points on my licence for offences I haven’t committed!

I feel extremely aggrieved – wrote a 3 page letter the day after the offence detailing exactly what occurred in the hope that the PC would admit he may have been mistaken, but now 4 months later I receive a court summons as I didn’t pay the fixed penalty notice – choosing instead to appeal. Any help or advice you could give here would be greatly appreciated – please don’t say “it’s not worth arguing, pay up” as that can’t be right.

How can PC’s always be “right” and general law abiding citizens be “wrong” all the time? Even the location of the offence wasn’t a road I’d even driven down – it was about 2 miles away in the opposite direction. The PC is not a local one, but his statement (produced in February 2010) still quotes the name of a High Street which I hadn’t actually driven down as the offence location!

Can I insist on CCTV camera evidence after this length of time from whatever cameras are along the road – because my van won’t be seen driving down it, as I wasn’t there!! Please help

Paula Says:

I understand why you would feel really aggrieved by this matter.

I won’t say pay up as I agree that sometimes you need to make decisions based on principles. But you have to bear in mind that if you lose this argument you will get higher fines and court costs. If you are up for that risk then the odds are in your favour.

The officer has to prove the allegation against you beyond reasonable doubt – so that the court is 90% or more sure that the officer is right. You only have to cast a reasonable doubt to win. If you are a man of good character then you stand a good chance of defending this matter as the court will give extra weight to what you have to say.

I know you may not like this but is your son willing to give a short statement confirming that he used the phone shortly before you were stopped?

If so that will help.

They won’t scour through the CCTV evidence for the road in question. That would be regarded as disproportionate and probably wouldn’t be clear enough to help anyway.

Have you got a hearing date?

Question Response:

Many thanks for your response. Yes, my son is not only willing to provide a written statement, but he is also prepared to be an oral witness in the case. His friend, to whom he spoke on that Saturday morning, has also given a written statement to say he accepted a call from x (my son) and his mother has witnessed this.

I have visited the local Police Station and explained the situation to the on duty Police Officer and he believes we have a good case, given we have 2 witnesses (albeit 13 year old boys) willing to testify that the call was made by my son … what I find hard to believe is that the Police Officer can state that he “saw” me on the telephone when the phone call had ended at least a mile or two further up the road before the Police Car drove past me in the opposite direction.

I can only assume I was talking to my son, sat on the far side of the 3 seater cab (which is much higher than a police car) and could have been scratching my right ear, or rubbing the side of my face – so, to give the Copper the benefit of the doubt (!), he may have THOUGHT he’d seen me talking on a phone, and “got lucky” when he scrolled down the recent numbers dialled to find one made just a couple of minutes earlier – which was my son!

What frustrates me is that he had the chance at the roadside to fully investigate this – my son was sat in the cab of the van when I was pulled over, but he refused to ask him any questions, and x (being 13 years old) kept his MP3 player firmly in his ears as he was frightened he’d got me into trouble by using the phone in the first place!

He also refused to look into the cab to see the parrot “hand free” kit which was fitted on the dashboard – thus more evidence that I would have no need to use a phone illegally when the van is fitted out for such a purpose!

I have no criminal record, my driving licence had zero points on it at the time I was pulled over (sadly, and even more maddingly for me I was pulled over in x in February this year for just this offence, but I was in a van without a hands-free kit and was lost, when my boss called – so I answered without thinking and was nicked – I paid up and took the points without argument;

I was guilty and if I am guilty I have no problem with accepting the punishment – but my ex-wife has given me earache over this recent incident coming on the back of the previous one of which I am guilt-free).

I understand this latest offence, settled by Fixed Penalty Notice, won’t count against me as it happened after the November incident and each case is looked at on its own merits (so the Police Officer at x advised me when I told him about the 3 points now sitting on my licence).

I know this doesn’t look good but believe me I don’t make a habit of answering the mobile illegally which is why most vans I drive have the hands-free kits fitted; but “sod’s law” the one I was driving in x whilst lost didn’t – and I paid the penalty for that.

Myself & my ex-wife have spent hours putting together Appeal letters (which we believe have been ignored) and a further letter now in response to the Summons enclosing our son & his friend’s witness statements (witnessed by people we know) and we can only hope that common sense prevails in the court room on 6th May.

I am, sadly, at an age where principles come into play – and this may go against me, but I feel like I’d be letting myself and my family down, if I didn’t fight this … x in particular is horrified that I can be “done” for something I haven’t done .. and he was witness to the whole event.

It’s made him see the Police in a new light and, sadly, for a 13 year old boy who’s always been told to listen to the Police and not break the law, to find his Dad in court for something he didn’t do has made him question the entire legal process – but he’s experiencing it first hand now and it’ll be an experience if nothing else for him to attend Court.

He’s never told a lie in his life – not yet perfected how to lie to his Mum & Dad, so a Magistrate will make mincemeat of him if they think they can trip him up – he will only tell them what happened, which is what I’ve told you (and the letters which I believe are merely scanned into systems and not read by human eye until the Court date itself!).

Sorry if I’ve bored you to death … if you’re interested, I’ll let you know how many years I get sent down for in a few weeks’ time!

Paula’s Response:

You will waste your breath trying to dissuade the police from taking further action I’m afraid. If it all comes down to the word of an officer they will stand firm and let the court decide who they believe. You need to get phone records to show that the only call made close to the actual stop was your sons call to his friend. This will help.

Keep me informed.

Good luck and Kind regards

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