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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 December 2005, 13:28 GMT
Judges overturn speeder acquittal
Ronald Klos
Ronald Klos was driving while holding a mobile phone
Appeal judges have overturned the acquittal of a businessman who was caught driving at 156mph with a mobile phone at his ear.

The Crown had appealed a sheriff's decision on Ronald Klos, who was filmed in his BMW M3 CSL on the A92 in Fife.

The sheriff ruled the Crown had not served a notice of prosecution on Klos and could not bring another charge.

Judges have directed the sheriff to find Klos, 37, guilty of culpable and reckless conduct.

Klos, of Mount Frost Drive, Markinch, in Fife, was clocked on 2 May last year at what was said to have been the highest speed recorded on roadside cameras in the county.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court was shown a video which revealed that the driver appeared to be holding a mobile phone.

In our opinion the sheriff ought to have found him guilty of the common law offence of culpable and reckless conduct
Temporary judge Gordon Nicholson

The amateur racing driver and founder of a salvage firm was originally charged with offences including dangerous driving, using a handheld mobile while driving and failing to give police information as to the identity of the driver.

He denied the charges and was found not guilty by Sheriff Paul Arthurson.

The accused had denied that he was the driver of the car but the sheriff rejected that.

However, Sheriff Arthurson accepted his testimony that he had not received the required papers for the prosecution.

The Crown had asked the sheriff to find him guilty of an alternative charge of culpable and reckless conduct but it was ruled that there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty of that offence.

The three judges at the Justiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh have now sent the case back to the sheriff with a direction that he find Klos guilty of culpable and reckless conduct and that he be sentenced there.

Temporary judge Gordon Nicholson QC said: "In our opinion there are several features which taken together demonstrate he was indeed guilty of culpable and reckless conduct.

"Firstly, and most importantly, there is the speed at which he was driving. We cannot say whether 156 miles per hour is the highest speed ever recorded on a Scottish road, but we suspect that it must be among the highest.

"It was more than double the speed permitted on the road in question and, although the video recording made by the police lasted for only seven seconds, it cannot, we think, be assumed that he maintained this speed only for that period of time."

The judge said it was fair to assume there would have been a lot of traffic around at the time of the offence.

Fife Police speed van
A police speed unit caught Klos on film

Mr Nicholson said: "In the face of foreseeable hazards such as these we do not see how to drive at 156mph can be described as anything other than culpable and reckless."

Sheriff Arthurson had acquitted Klos on the mobile phone charge because, while there was evidence that he was holding it to his ear, there was no evidence that he had been using it.

Mr Nicholson, who heard the appeal with lords Johnston and Mackay, said: "We have to say that, in our view, it defies common sense to suppose that he was doing no more than just holding the telephone and not actually using it."

The judge stated: "In our opinion the sheriff ought to have found him guilty of the common law offence of culpable and reckless conduct.

"We have, without difficulty, come to the conclusion that the sheriff was in error in giving too much attention to the absence of evidence as to actual danger and by not giving sufficient attention to the inherent quality of what he was doing at the time and to the foreseeable consequences of such actings."

Klos was not in court to hear the judgement.


SEE ALSO:
Man cleared of 156mph BMW charge
08 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Businessman denies 156mph speed
21 Apr 05 |  Scotland


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