Devon

Millionaire blamed sick father for speeding fine

A property tycoon who claimed his father was driving when the car was caught on camera speeding, has been ordered to do community service.

Checks later showed Gavin French's father was severely ill in hospital at the time of the offence in 2008.

Plymouth Crown Court heard French, 48, who denied perverting the course of justice, also could not have been driving as he was on an aeroplane.

French was ordered to pay £3,500 costs. The real driver has never been named.

Reputation 'trashed'

Mr David Gittins, for the prosecution, said French's father John could not have been the driver because "he was not capable of driving anything other than a mobility scooter with a top speed of 8mph.

"The day before the camera was activated he fell off his scooter and unfortunately injured his hip.

"At the very moment the Range Rover activated that camera he was undergoing an operation on his hip, so it is perfectly plain he could not have been the driver."

The court heard French, who has a home in Hampshire, was flying to the UK from the West Indies when the Exmouth-based camera was activated at 39mph in a 30mph zone.

Mr Peter Martin, defending, said the case meant the defendant's reputation "had been trashed".

Judge Ian Leeming QC ordered that French must complete 300 hours community service.

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