Obafemi Martins escapes driving ban

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The Independent Online

Road safety campaigners were furious today after Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins was not banned from driving having been caught doing 106mph in his Porsche.

Martins was clocked breaking the 70mph speed limit while on the way to the airport.

Newcastle Magistrates' Court heard yesterday the former Inter Milan player put his foot down because he was concerned he was going to miss a flight to see his sick son in Italy last May.

He was fined £550 and ordered to pay £400 costs and had six points put on his licence.

The 24-year-old Nigerian international was given credit for his unblemished driving record and his guilty plea by District Judge Stephen Earl.

The court heard the footballer left training late in his Porsche Cayenne four-wheel drive and was clocked by a Northumbria Police traffic officer in a patrol car on the A696 Woolsington bypass.

Cathy Keeler, deputy chief executive of the road safety charity Brake, said drivers exceeding 100mph should be automatically banned.

She said: "Going so much over the speed limit is taking a blatant risk with lives on the road.

"There is absolutely no excuse.

"For someone who is a role model in the community, this sends out a terrible message that road safety does not matter.

"A fine of a few hundred pounds for someone who earns thousands a week is not really a deterrent.

"The courts need to find a better way of dealing with incidents like this, that does provide a real deterrent.

"We would like to see anyone going so significantly over the speed limit to be treated as committing a much more serious offence and prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving, rather than speeding, and face an automatic ban."

Andrew Howard, head of road safety for the AA, said: "Driving at over 100mph does not mean an automatic ban, but the guidelines suggest that it should.

"The only guideline laid down for the courts for speeding offences is a maximum fine."

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