Defoe fined for 'frivolous' speeding appeal

Jermain Defoe was today criticised by a judge for making a "frivolous" attempt to escape speeding penalties - and handed a legal bill of more than £1,500.

Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC dismissed Defoe's appeal against a driving ban, saying he thought the Tottenham and England striker had "played the litigation game".

During a hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court, the judge said Defoe's arguments were based on "sad and ill-conceived technical points" and the appeal should not have been launched.

Defoe, 27, of Cuffley, Hertfordshire, appealed after being disqualified from driving in July.

Chelmsford Magistrates Court had been told Defoe twice broke a 50mph speed limit on the M11 northbound in Chigwell, Essex, in 2008.

District Judge David Cooper was told Defoe's luxury black Land Rover sports vehicle was clocked travelling at 65mph on April 16 and 81mph on June 5.

Defoe denied any offence but Judge Cooper found him guilty of speeding and failing to inform the authorities who was driving.

Defoe was fined £1,500, disqualified from driving for six months, had 12 penalty points added to his licence and was ordered to pay £600 costs.

The footballer, represented by celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman, appealed and argued there was no evidence to prove he was driving; prosecutors had not proved paperwork was issued by a person authorised by the chief constable of Essex; the court could not be sure Defoe had received speeding notices and the court could not be sure Defoe had not responded to the notices.

Judge Goldstaub said: "This appeal is a frivolous and vexatious piece of criminal litigation by the appellant and should never have been initiated.

"It is based on technical and legal points empty of substantial merit and bad in themselves."

The judge said paperwork had been completed by agents authorised by the chief constable.

And he said it was "inconceivable, or at best highly fanciful," to assume post addressed to Defoe had twice gone astray.

The judge said he was equally sure Defoe had not responded to the notices.

Judge Goldstaub, who sat with two magistrates to hear the appeal, said he was also sure Defoe had been the driver.

The judge said: "We don't know why the appellant ran these sad and ill-conceived technical points.

"He must have been fully aware that, in reality, he was the driver and he had broken the speed limits.

"We think he chose to give the prosecution a run for the money regardless, simply because he could afford to play the litigation game.

"We regret this. His lawyers will have advised him it is a game of dubious validity.

"We regret this appeal, which has taken up a day's court time when people waiting in custody for trials on serious charges should have been brought."

The judge ordered Defoe to pay prosecution appeal costs of £1,570.

"We feel that the [prosecution] claim is an extremely modest claim," said the judge.

"We would lay long odds that Mr Freeman, solicitor for the appellant, and his counsel, are remunerated on a very much higher level."

The judge was told Defoe's driving ban began as soon as the appeal failed.

He said he hoped Defoe won a place in the England squad for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 but warned the striker not to get behind the wheel.

The judge added: "We hope he gets to South Africa. But he must not drive in the UK."

Defoe was not present in court to hear the judge's comments.

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