Footballer Joe Cole's ban delayed over wife's scare

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The Independent Online

England footballer Joe Cole avoided an immediate ban for speeding at 105mph after a court heard today that his wife was "severely traumatised" after being dragged from her car by "eight thugs on motorbikes".

Carly Zucker has been left unable to get back behind the wheel after she was the victim of a carjacking outside her Chelsea home, Staines Magistrates' Court in south west London was told.

Police are still hunting for the black Audi A4 which was stolen almost a fortnight ago, said Cole's lawyer Nick Freeman.

Chairman of the bench John Neary agreed to suspend a 50-day ban and £750 fine while Mr Freeman, known as Mr Loophole, launches an appeal.

The Liverpool and England star did not appear in court for the hearing.

Mr Freeman told the court: "His wife 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 and it has not yet been recovered. She is 26 and has been severely traumatised by this incident to the extent that she has not driven a car since."

He said the situation was "now compounded" by the fact that Cole and his wife have moved up to Merseyside since his summer switch from Chelsea to Liverpool FC.

Mrs 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.

Cole's driving licence and documents were in the glove compartment of the stolen car, Mr Freeman added.

Cole, who has recently encountered on-field troubles after missing a penalty and being sent off since making his debut for Liverpool, was driving his wife's A4 when a police officer spotted him breaking the 70mph limit in November last year.

In a recording of the incident, Cole appeared to be smiling as he drove past the officer on the A3 Esher bypass in Claygate, Surrey.

He was not pulled over but was later sent a speeding ticket by Surrey Police, via his wife.

Andrew Mitchell, who has since retired from the force, told the court he believed Cole's car was being driven at more than 70mph when he saw it approach at 12.55pm on November 19.

"My estimate was confirmed when the laser, when shone on the vehicle, recorded a speed of 105mph," he said at an earlier hearing.

Cole, whose address was given as Chelsea, London, confirmed he was driving but previously denied speeding.

The footballer already had six points on his licence.

He was told he must pay £600 costs in addition to the fine.

Speaking outside court Mr Freeman welcomed the result, saying Cole would be "very pleased".

Mr Freeman had told the court it was a "substantial but unusual" mitigating factor that Cole's wife had been victim of the carjacking.

Cole had missed the court appearance because he had flown out with his club for a European match in Turkey, the court heard.

Mr Freeman asked the magistrates "would you consider suspending this?" after Mr Neary said he believe a "sentence of disqualification" was appropriate.