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Theft left star facing charges

PUBLISHED: 10:17 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:13 05 July 2010

When popular actor Bernard Hill was the victim of theft while on location in New Zealand filming The Lord of the Rings, little could he have expected it to start a chain of events that would lead to him facing a court charge eight years later.

When popular actor Bernard Hill was the victim of theft while on location in New Zealand filming The Lord of the Rings, little could he have expected it to start a chain of events that would lead to him facing a court charge eight years later.

The unlikely links between the international blockbuster films and a speeding charge faced by Suffolk-based Hill emerged during a hearing at Lowestoft Magistrates' Court yesterday.

Hill, 63, who played King Theoden in two of the Lord of the Rings films, was caught driving at 42mph in a 30mph zone near Blyford, north Suffolk, in September last year and thought he had dealt with matters after visiting a police station two days later to pay a £60 fixed penalty fine.

However, a discrepancy between details on the card part of Hill's licence and the paper segment was later flagged up by the authorities and he was given 28-days in which to sort matters out. He failed to meet this deadline so as a matter of procedure the speeding case was referred to the magistrates' court for consideration.

Hill, of Reydon, near Southwold, could not attend yesterday's hearing because of work commitments, but in a letter to the court he explained how he applied to DVLA for a new licence after a travel pouch containing his old driving documents was stolen in New Zealand during 2000.

The new documents sent out by DVLA contained a slight discrepancy between a number on the card and the paper section, but this was only picked up following Hill's speeding offence on the B1123 on September 11.

In his letter, Hill said: “The original fault must lie with the DVLA. This could easily have been avoided and the court could have been saved valuable time and resources. I apologise for this, but I don't think that the majority of the blame lies with me.”

Hill went on to explain that the fault on his licence was not resolved within 28-days because he was away working and his secretary was unsure of what needed to be done. He also complained about how difficult it was to sort matters out with the DVLA.

Hill, formerly of Metfield, near Harleston, did not enter a fresh plea to the charge of speeding, but the case was proved in his absence. Magistrates fined him £60, ordered him to pay a £15 surcharge and added three penalty points to the existing six points on his driving licence.

Tess James, prosecuting, said Hill told police he had been distracted because he was talking to a passenger in his green Land Rover.

Hill has played a number of celebrated roles throughout his long career, including Yosser Hughes in the hit television show Boys from the Black Stuff.

A spokesman for the DVLA said he could not comment on individual cases.

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