Speed camera

Article by Richard Duggan: A prolific speeder who asked a judge to spare him from a prison sentence so he could pay for his daughter's private school fees has been jailed.

Matthew Potter, 41, pleaded guilty to six counts of perverting the course of justice when he appeared before Basildon Crown Court for sentencing this morning (May 9).

The court heard how Potter, of Langley Place, Billericay, received six penalty notices for two different vehicles between August 7, 2015 and August 29, 2016.

For each notice he provided police with false information, creating a fictitious name to put onto each of the forms, hoping the problem would go away. The most serious of the offences took place on July 1, 2016 when he drove at 60 mph in a 40 mph zone.

Outlining the aggravating features of the case, prosecutor Peter Clark said:

"He provided false details. Clearly his intention was to avoid disqualification. It may well be that the first offence might have led to him being invited to a speed awareness course."

Mr Clark explained to the court how police caught up with Potter's lies when they discovered one of the speeding vehicles had been towing his caravan.

Attempting to mitigate for his client, Alan Wheetman told the court of the difficult personal circumstances that Potter had been subject to, including the breakdown of his 18 year relationship with the mother of his child.

Mr Wheetman said:

"The character of the man before you is a far different person from the one during the period of the offences. I ask the court to stop and think for a moment what it was over the course of that year that took an otherwise law abiding citizen to fall into the crimes which have brought him before the court today. If there was an award for stupidity then Mr Potter would be deserving of that award. He must have known that sooner or later he was going to get caught."

Mr Wheetman explained that Potter had also been embroiled in a fight to ensure his father, who has Parkinson's disease, received treatment in a care home.

Mr Wheetman continued:

"He is sorry, not just because he's been caught, he's sorry for the inconvenience he has caused. He has wasted a lot of police time and resources. This is not a boy racer, this is someone who was rushing from place to place. What will his going to prison achieve? It would punish those Mr Potter cares about. His daughter wouldn't be able to go to her school anymore. It would punish his ex-partner who relies on him to pay the mortgage."

Potter, who works a freelance engineer for Network Rail, told the court that being disqualified and being sent to prison would provide exceptional hardship to his family. However, Judge Ian Graham was not swayed.

Passing sentence, he said:

"Unfortunately for you what you did was dishonest, it was criminal and it was persistent and it was clearly carried out to avoid the consequences of exceeding the speed limit. You did that repeatedly over the period of a year. I am afraid these matters must come home to roost and you must face the consequences. You have avoided prosecution, you have avoided fines and you have avoided being disqualified from driving. These offences were committed during a highly stressful period of your life. But these offences are so serious they can only be met with a custodial sentence."

Potter was sentenced to six months in prison, disqualified from driving for 15 months and ordered to pay £600 in prosecution costs.

Article by Richard Duggan, Essex Live

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