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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
159mph speeding charge Pc cleared
Pc Mark Milton
Pc Milton was "familiarising" himself with a new car, the court heard
A police constable who reached 159mph on a motorway has been cleared of speeding and dangerous driving.

Pc Mark Milton, 38, from Telford, Shropshire, was recorded by the patrol car's video camera on the M54 in 2003, Ludlow Magistrates' Court heard.

District Judge Bruce Morgan acquitted him after calling the constable the "creme de la creme" of police drivers.

Pc Milton is trained in advanced driving and was "familiarising" himself with a new car, the court was told.

'Lack of policy'

The officer, who is also trained in the use of firearms, was recorded travelling at 159mph on the motorway near Telford in the early hours of 5 December 2003.

In reaching his verdict, Mr Morgan noted that two police officers who gave evidence for the prosecution, including West Mercia Police's senior driving instructor, had declined to classify the defendant's driving as dangerous.

We don't believe 159mph can ever be justified on public roads
Kevin Clinton, Rospa

But he added: "I can't help but see the irony that those that brought this prosecution are those very people who have purchased cars that go at this speed and paid for him (the defendant) to go to learn to drive at these speeds."

The magistrate also expressed concern at West Mercia Constabulary's "total lack of policy" on when and where police drivers should practise driving at very high speeds.

But speaking after the case, a police spokesman said the force was to clarify the guidance issued to advanced drivers.

Prosecution 'appropriate'

Referring to the prosecution brought against Mr Milton, the spokesman said: "Members of our own staff identified that an offence may have taken place and began an investigation.

"The Crown Prosecution Service determined that a prosecution was appropriate."

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) said it was shocked that such a speed was not regarded as dangerous by the court.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety, said: "Police are governed by health and safety laws just the same as any other employer.

"We don't believe 159mph can ever be justified on public roads.

'Honing skills'

"Even in emergencies we consider that driving at 100mph or more is too dangerous."

But the Police Federation defended the driving of Pc Milton, who is also known to have travelled at 120mph in a 60mph zone and at more than 60mph in a 30mph zone.

Speaking on the steps of the court, Insp Keith Howes, said: "Pc Milton was driving in accordance with his training, honing his skills while possible and testing the vehicle's capabilities so that if he was required on an urgent call he would be driving safely."

The court heard the roads on which Pc Milton drove were deserted at the time of the patrol and that driving conditions were good.


SEE ALSO:
Police force on trial, says judge
20 Apr 05 |  Shropshire
Pc in speeding trial denies risk
19 Apr 05 |  Shropshire


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