Special constable admits careless driving

A SPECIAL constable escaped a driving ban yesterday despite admitting ignoring warning lights and driving through a level crossing in a police van.Matthew Newman, from Leiston, was driving six fellow officers home in the Mercedes van in the early hours of February 21 following a shift in Ipswich.

A SPECIAL constable escaped a driving ban yesterday despite admitting ignoring warning lights and driving through a level crossing in a police van.

Matthew Newman, from Leiston, was driving six fellow officers home in the Mercedes van in the early hours of February 21 following a shift in Ipswich.

The 39-year-old, who is an inspector in Suffolk special constabulary and also a civilian station officer for the force, exceeded numerous speed limits before jumping lights at the crossing in Mill Road, Saxmundham, scaring his passengers.

He pleaded guilty to careless driving at Norwich Crown Court. He had been due to stand trial after denying dangerous driving but this count was withdrawn.


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Prosecutor Sarah Lewis said: 'He reached the level crossing where the lights were flashing but the barrier was up. He slowed but drove through it.

'His six passengers were not as aware of the local area and were quite alarmed and shocked at the way he approached the crossing. One witness thought there was a train crossing and asked the defendant: 'what the hell were you doing?''

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She added that the speeding was detected using trackers fitted to all police vehicles. However, these are not Home Office accredited detection devices so he could not be prosecuted for speeding.

In mitigation, Neelam Sharma said that although Newman had seen the warning light he knew the area well and thought that no train would be travelling at that time. He had looked at a nearby crossing to see that it was open.

But she added: 'He accepts that the correct thing to do would be to stop and then cross, rather than drive on through.'

Ms Sharma said that he had been in the special constabulary since 1998 and had now been banned from driving police vehicles. He would now face a disciplinary hearing.

'This has been extremely stressful and embarrassing. He is disappointed in himself,' she said.

Judge Alistair Darroch ordered that seven points be added to his licence and that he pay a �200 fine and �185 legal costs. He will also pay a �15 victim surcharge.

He said: 'Everybody is very grateful to people who become special constables. As a police man in any capacity you have to set a good example.'

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