Fakenham car salesman loses licence after driving while using a mobile phone in Downham Market
A car salesman and mechanic has lost his licence after being found guilty of driving while using a mobile phone.
Shaun Brooker, 48, of Hempton Road, Fakenham, appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court yesterday charged with using a mobile phone while driving his Vauxhall Corsa van along Bexwell Road, Downham Market, on April 16.
He denied committing the offence which happened at 4.45pm in clear daylight close to Downham Market Academy and Alive Downham Leisure Centre.
Instead, he said he had been eating black grapes from a clear plastic punnet at the time..
Brooker, who was convicted in December 2014 for using a mobile phone while driving, already had nine points on his licence and will be disqualified from driving for six months.
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The maximum time he could have been disqualified for was 12 months.
Brooker was stopped by Sgt Daniel Green, who was on duty at the time.
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The police officer told the court he was 10 metres away from Brooker and had a 'clear unobstructed view' of the defendant holding a phone up to his right ear with his right hand.
Brooker, who defended himself in court, said that rather than using a phone he had been holding the grape punnet in his left hand and steering with his right hand.
The empty punnet was in the front passenger footwell after Brooker was stopped and a mobile phone was on the front passenger seat.
Brooker added Mr Green had been about 20 metres away when he first drove past him and the police officer had been mistaken in what he saw.
When questioned by prosecutor Larissa Hutson about the strange nature of how he ate the grapes, Brooker said: 'I was hungry. When you have got to eat, you have got to eat.'
Brooker, a single father of five, said he had to have a driving licence for his job and had to transport three of his children to school in Barford and Hethersett for part of the week.
Chairman of the bench David Corbett said: 'There have been some tragic results where people using mobile phones have been driving.'
He added the bench did not find any evidence of exceptional hardship if Brooker lost his driving licence.
Brooker was also fined £555.