Mr Loophole strikes again. The Liverpool footballer Joe Cole has escaped an immediate driving ban for speeding at 105mph after his solicitor told the court that the midfielder needed his licence to drive his wife, who is too scared to get behind the wheel following a carjacking – and too famous to catch public transport.
The court heard that Carly Zucker was left "severely traumatised" after being dragged from her car by "eight thugs on motorbikes" outside her flat in London two weeks ago.
Nick Freeman, known as Mr Loophole for his ability to defend clients facing driving offences, told Staines magistrates' court that Ms Zucker had not driven since the incident and was too well known to be able to comfortably use public transport, therefore she needed her husband to drive for her.
The solicitor also managed to argue that Cole, who already has six points on his licence, should avoid the normal punishment of six points for speeding at more than 100mph – something which would have meant an automatic six-month ban, given his previous record.
The chairman of the bench instead banned Cole, who was found guilty at an earlier hearing, for 50 days, and also agreed to suspend the punishment and a £750 fine after Mr Freeman announced that he was appealing against the verdict.
It essentially means that Cole will be tried again for the offence. His legal team insist that the officer who was operating the speed gun used it wrongly and therefore the reading was not accurate.
Cole was driving his wife's Audi A4 when a police officer spotted him breaking the 70mph limit on the A3 in Surrey. Andrew Mitchell, who has since retired from the force, told the court he believed Cole's car was being driven too fast when he saw it approach at 12.55pm on 19 November. "My estimate was confirmed when the laser, when shone on the vehicle, recorded a speed of 105mph," he said at an earlier hearing.
But Mr Freeman, whose clients include Sir Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney and Jeremy Clarkson, said he believes Mr Mitchell was "panning" the speed-gun – moving it from side to side rather than holding it still – and that this created a false reading. It is a defence that he successfully used when defending the golfer Colin Montgomerie.
After Cole's hearing Mr Freeman explained that asking for the retrial was a "calculated risk", acknowledging that a 50-day ban was a relatively short punishment and should the player be found guilty again the ban could be longer. But he added: "My client and I believe that he is innocent. We do not accept he was driving that fast."
Mr Freeman told the court details of Ms Zucker's carjacking: she "was outside their house in London when she was carjacked by eight thugs who were on motorbikes. She was physically removed from the car. The car was stolen ... She is 26 and has been severely traumatised by this incident to the extent that she has not driven a car since."
Ms Zucker and her five-month-old baby would not be able to use public transport if Cole was banned because of their "profile", the lawyer added.