Desperate police have used an arcane law to convict a man caught drink driving in a golf buggy.
Events manager Paul Crawford used the sports vehicle to travel across a camping field to his tent at this year’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone after enjoying a party at the annual event, the Telegraph reports.
But he was pulled over and breathalyser by three police officers, including a sergeant, and found to have a reading of 47mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, above the legal limit of 35.
Finding himself charged with being drunk at the wheel of the golf buggy, Mr Crawford hired renown lawyer Nick Freeman to escape the charges. Mr Crawford, aka Mr Loophole who has represented Alex Ferguson and Ronnie O’Sullivan, argued that a charge of drink driving could not stand because golf buggies cannot be considered suitable for road use.
Instead of moving on to pursue serious criminals, the police used their time to find a clause in a 140 year old law set up to stop people drinking while in charge of a cow or horse in order to snare Mr Crawford.
Latest government figures show that far from solving the huge number of serious crimes which take place across the UK, in 2012/13 there was only a 16 per cent detection rate for offences of criminal damage and arson.
Mr Crawford had indicated he would be pleading not guilty to the charge and was scheduled for a two-day trial at Northampton Crown Court. In order to get a conviction of a client of the well known solicitor, the Crown Prosecution Service decided to change the charge by using Section 12 “carriage law” of 1872, which has not been updated since the 19th Century.
While originally designed to crack down on anyone caught drunk in charge of a carriage, steam engine, a horse or a cow.
The Victorian law does not attract a ban or points on a license, since driver registration was only introduced in 1903 and competency tests in 1934.
Mr Crawford had to pay a £165 fine, £20 victim surcharge and £85 court costs and also has a criminal record.
Speaking after the case, Mr Freeman said: “This prosecution was a terrible waste of time and trouble.
“It epitomises the police’s view that motorists are fair game and a cash cow whilst so many serious offences are being decriminalised.
“When will a little intelligence and common sense be reintroduced back to the PC society?
“Mr Crawford was arrested by three police officers, one of them a sergeant, and none of them appeared to be aware of the law, that a golf buggy is not a motor vehicle that could be used on the road.
“This case smacks of desperation, that the CPS knew they could not prosecute so instead they bring out an ancient law as an alternative to a defective drink drive charge that is clearly not designed to deal with this type of incident.
“Ultimately it was a waste of tax payers money. They made a mistake and they should have said sorry and called it a day.”