Andrew Constantine, who fought his speeding ticket in court and won.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The 18mph taxi driver clocked ‘doing 50mph’ by misfiring speed camera

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
2.03 PM

A Norwich taxi driver has won his battle against prosecution for a speeding offence – by proving the speed camera which snapped him got it wrong.

Traffic passing the speed camera at Drayton.  Photo: Bill SmithTraffic passing the speed camera at Drayton. Photo: Bill Smith

Father-of-two Andrew Constantine, below, says he was left “angry and bewildered” after being prosecuted for driving at 50mph – when he was in fact doing less than 18mph.

Now concerns have been raised at how many other drivers have been wrongly caught by the camera on Fakenham

Road in Drayton despite its pictures contradicting the radar speed reading.

Mr Constantine had to spend £1,600 and wait 11 months to clear his name in court after being accused of breaking the 30mph speed limit on February 9 last year.

However, a spokesman for Norfolk Constabulary said it was not aware the ticket was being challenged until yesterday and if it has been told about the precise nature of the case at an earlier opportunity, it would not have reached court.

The case against 47-year-old Andrew Constantine was withdrawn yesterday, as a trial was due to begin, after a simple piece of maths proved he had been travelling at around one-third of the speed the camera radar had suggested.

Two pictures taken by the camera, half a second apart, showed Mr Constantine’s car had travelled four metres over the white speed-trap road markings – which should be used as a second measure of the speed – meaning he was travelling at 17.8mph.

Speaking after the hearing yesterday, Mr Constantine said: “I’m very pleased and very relieved.

“Being called to court induces a sense of trepidation, even if someone is completely innocent.

“It was nice to walk into court innocent, leave court innocent and to be completely vindicated.”

Having travelled the road “thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of times”, Mr Constantine said he was aware of the camera and had been driving cautiously, as the paying passenger he had on board was a woman in her 80s, and was certain he had not been speeding.

“I have an instinct to check my speed,” he said. “Some other people may have just taken the medicine and accepted it, but I was innocent.”

Mr Constantine covers more than 70,000 miles a year in his job for Enterprise Taxis and said he felt “a cocktail of exasperation, anger, shock and bewilderment” when told of the charge.

He took his case to a specialist motoring offences lawyer, who identified that the two photographs contradicted the radar speed reading.

It is not clear what caused the incorrect reading from the camera, though Mr Constantine speculated the reading may have been taken from another vehicle.

Because the case was withdrawn, Mr Constantine could see around 75pc of his legal fees refunded – but is still likely to be left out of pocket.

A Norfolk police spokesman said data and images from the cameras were viewed by staff in the Criminal Justice Unit and fixed penalty notices were issued where necessary.

“In this case, an FPN was issued in error; however we were not notified that this ticket was being challenged until [Monday] morning,” she said.

“The file was reviewed and we have supported the withdrawal of this prosecution.

“If we had been alerted to the precise nature of the challenge at an earlier opportunity, this case would not have reached court.”

She added every camera is tested prior to installation, then calibrated annually, and said the Fakenham Road camera had been activated 141 times in 2011.