Bikers' 'year of hell' after being wrongly convicted of 140mph speeds on A47
PUBLISHED: 16:10 19 June 2018 | UPDATED: 08:32 20 June 2018
Five bikers who were wrongly convicted of speeding at 140mph on the A47 have had the cases against them dropped after a CPS review.
In January a single magistrate convicted Sian Cooper, Jackson Harmer, Kaz Pinfold, Martin Pinfold and Gavin Green of the speed under the Single Justice Procedure.
But Norwich Magistrates Court heard today from prosecutor Stacie Cossey that after a review of the evidence, it only showed lead rider Martin Pinfold, 51, was travelling at 94mph “for at least six seconds” on the morning of August 6 last year.
Mr Pinfold, of Allendale Road in Caister, admitted the speed and the bench accepted an application to discontinue the cases of the remaining four.
The court also ordered they are paid £495 each to partly cover their legal costs.
Solicitor Simon Nicholls, representing all five defendants, told the court: “These are a group of five riders who attracted national attention because the accusation was they were travelling at 140mph.
“Mr Pinfold has always accepted he was speeding but never accepted he was travelling anywhere near that speed. He and the other four wish to express their thanks to the CPS who have taken this file and reviewed the state of the evidence.
“They have had a year of hell having been labelled ‘biker gangs’. These are five people who ride their motorbikes for pleasure.
“For nearly a year with the intervening national red-top press coverage it has been a very stressful time for them all.”
Pinfold was given four penalty points and ordered to pay £525 in fines and costs.
After the hearing, Cooper, Harmer and the Pinfolds said they felt they had been “targeted” by police and were out of pocket almost £900 each in legal fees.
“Over the last 10 or 11 months it has been hanging over out heads,” said Mr Harmer. “We are local business people and this has really affected us.
“The only person showed doing any sort of dangerously high speed was the police officer. To say it was a police pursuit of a biker gang was ridiculous.
“We were all compliant and we all pulled over. We were all shocked really. We had been going to have breakfast at Route 11 at the time.
“I felt we were targeted because we were in a group of five bikers.”
Mr Pinfold added: “We have all had our lives on hold for 10 months. We have been treated like Sons of Anarchy rather than what we are.”
Mrs Pinfold added she had to turn down a job offer while the threat of a driving ban was hanging over their heads, and had been shunned as a result of the case.
“I work with children with learning disabilities and I have had clients refuse to get into vehicles with me because of the case,” she said. “We are just normal, average people who like going out on motorbikes. It is a hobby for us.”
Mr Nicholls added the case highlighted the “positives and negatives” of the Single Justice Procedure, in which motoring offences were dealt with in bulk by a single volunteer in a back office.
“Two of the five had not entered pleas and emails had been sent to the court confirming that,” he said. “Those emails were missed and the cases were proved in absence by a single magistrate sitting in a back room.”
He added the remaining three pleaded guilty to “what they thought they had done” - speeding at over 70mph - but they had never accepted a speed of 140mph.
“The positive side is that the court system has worked in the end because the CPS have reviewed the file and looked at the evidence that we had also looked at, and made the correct decision to discontinue four of the five cases and set Mr Pinfold’s speed at the speed he was travelling.”
“Review of technical evidence”
Norfolk Police said the cases against four of the riders were dropped after a “review of the technical evidence”.
They added no formal action is currently being taken against the officer in charge of the case.
Inspector Jon Chapman of the Roads Policing unit said: “Speeding is one of the ‘fatal four’ offences which makes you more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a collision. Highly skilled roads policing officers, who are specifically trained and responsible for ensuring road safety, focus on these offences on a daily basis in an attempt to reduce casualties whilst improving road safety.
“In this case, three of the riders pleaded guilty and two failed to enter a plea and were convicted in their absence. Due to the circumstances involved and possible outcomes, the matter was referred to a court hearing for sentencing.
“At the sentencing hearing all five changed their pleas to not guilty and following a further review of the technical evidence it was decided to only pursue a charge against one rider.”