Suffolk

Suffolk PCC brands 154mph driver's 56-day ban a 'joke'

Tim Passmore
Image caption Tim Passmore said he would take the case to the Sentencing Council

A 56-day driving ban given to driver caught speeding at 154mph has been described as a "joke".

Louie Howlett, 21, was clocked driving on the A11 at Icklingham, Suffolk, in April.

Magistrates in Bury St Edmunds disqualified him on Tuesday for 56 days - the maximum sentence the court can impose - and fined him £365.

Suffolk's police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said the ruling was a "slap on the wrist".

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He said he would ask the Sentencing Council why magistrates can only impose a maximum 56-day ban.

"We should be looking at a few years... To me, it's a joke because it doesn't send a strong enough message."

The Sentencing Council said it did not comment on individual cases and maximum penalties are set by parliament.

'Grossly irresponsible'

Howlett, from Lakenheath, admitted speeding and told magistrates he was "sorry" and "had learnt his lesson".

Suffolk Police lodged an immediate appeal of the sentence and said they believed it to be the highest speeding offence recorded on the county's roads.

Image caption Louie Howlett was caught by police driving at 154mph on the A11 in Suffolk

Mr Passmore said he would also query whether severe cases of speeding should be charged as dangerous driving.

"Driving at that speed [154mph] is grossly irresponsible, remarkably selfish and has a wanton disregard for every other road user on the A11.

"If you want to do that sort of speed, go to a race track."

Magistrates' sentencing guidelines for speeding

Magistrates follow guidelines set by the Sentencing Council.

Their starting point is a fine and three points, rising to a maximum of a larger fine plus six points, or a driving disqualification of 56 days. However, the law allows magistrates to give a longer period of disqualification where it is appropriate.

The maximum speed by which they base their sentence is 101-110mph in a 70mph zone. A speed of 154mph falls outside the guidelines.

Magistrates must also consider aggravating factors such as passengers and any mitigating circumstances, usually limited to a genuine emergency.

A reduction for a guilty plea is also considered.

Source: Sentencing Council

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