Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 13:52 UK

No jail term for speeding officer

Richard Holding: Picture Nick Irving
The court was told Holding had seen colleagues die in Iraq

A lying policeman who invented a bogus car chase to avoid paying a speeding fine has been spared jail.

Richard Holding claimed he was pursuing a dangerous driver when he was caught on camera doing 89mph in a 70mph limit.

Plymouth Magistrates were told Holding's "moment of madness" in March 2007 was caused by stress.

He was fined £450 plus £500 costs with a £15 victim surcharge. He received a £60 fixed penalty and a three point licence endorsement last year.

Magistrate David Libby told him: "We accept your actions can be described as totally irrational and out of character."

Diamond heist

The court heard Holding suffered post traumatic stress after seeing colleagues killed while he was serving with the Royal Military Police in Iraq.

He had also been affected by years of service as a firearms officer with the Metropolitan Police's elite SO 19 unit, where he had tackled IRA killers and had been involved in the Millennium Dome diamond heist.

Magistrates heard how Holding was on his way to police headquarters in Exeter from his home in Barras Cross, Liskeard, Cornwall, on 28 March last year.

When he realised he was going through a speed trap on the A38 near Saltash, he switched on the blue lights of his Tactical Aid Group Range Rover.

After searching the police computer to find a suitable incident, he claimed to have been chasing a Citroen car driving erratically.

'Bad decision'

But when colleagues checked his story they discovered the information had never been broadcast on the police radio.

Holding admitted falsely claiming to be taking part in a police chase at the time.

Magistrates said they would not impose a prison sentence because he had no previous convictions and was a positive character who had given great service to his country and his community.

Holding will now face police disciplinary action.

After the case Det Insp Simon Selley said the chief constable expected the highest standards of professional behaviour from his officers.

"Pc Holding is suspended from duty and this matter will now be taken to an internal misconduct hearing."

Mr Simon Laws, defending, told the court Holding would not have risked his job and his reputation for the sake of a speeding fine and three points if he had been thinking straight.

"This was a moment of madness from a man suffering classic symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder," he said.

"He made a very bad decision and one which he has already had great cause to regret."




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