Speed camera "revenge” backfires
When tennis coach Andrew Jeffery checked messages on his girlfriend Michela’s phone, they confirmed his suspicions that she was seeing someone else.
In what is thought to be the first case of “revenge by speed camera,” Staines Magistrates Court heard he left her asleep in his bed and took her car for a drive in the early hours of the morning.
He then drove past the local speed camera reaching 74mph and 68mph in a 40mph limit, before returning the car to its original position outside his home in Upland Drive, Epsom.
A few days later Surrey Police sent a pair of Notices of Intended Prosecution/Section 172s to the registered keeper, Michela’s father, who instead of simply nominating his daughter as the user of the car, asked them both for an explanation.
Having satisfied himself his daughter had not been the driver, he nominated Andrew Jeffery, but when Surrey Police asked Jeffrey who was driving, he completed the form naming Michela.
He then returned both forms with a covering letter, in which he claimed that his girlfriend had been very drunk and had been in and out of his flat during the night, driving her car. She was sent 172s herself and nominated her (by now) ex-boyfriend.
The court heard enquiry officer Patricia Goodwin, assigned to the camera office, visited Michela and her father, and was given screen shots of messages sent on WhatsApp on the night of the speeding offences and subsequently. These showed that at 4.28am on September 3, 2016, Jeffrey had sent an abusive message on Michela’s phone to her “other man” telling him he’d been rumbled.
But it was not until over half an hour later, after she was woken up and confronted with what had been found, that Michela messaged the same man, apologising for what had been sent earlier. Her message was timed at 5.03am. The speed camera activations were at 4.45 and 4.48am and the camera was barely six minutes from Upland Drive.
As members of Road Safety Support (RSS), Surrey Police sought the advice of Andrew Perry, Solicitor. Surrey CPS then instructed him to prosecute the case on their behalf.
After hearing evidence from Michela, her father and PC Goodwin, Mr Jeffery decided not to give evidence himself and risk cross examination. He was warned about the inferences that might be drawn from such a failure but gave no evidence nor any closing speech.
He was convicted of two counts of failing to provide information about the driver at the hearing on September 1, 2017. The bench told him they were “certain” he had set this all up and the motive was revenge.
He was fined £726, ordered to pay costs of £625 and a victim surcharge £72. But in a move that is likely to be appealed, they awarded only six points for the two offences, after legal advice concerning section 28 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act and the fact that both offences occurred on the same occasion and related to the same journey.