12/20/2006UK High Court Overturns Hidden Sign Speed Conviction
The UK High Court overturned a speed camera ticket issued in a hidden speed limit sign trap.
The UK High Court today overturned a speed camera ticket that had been issued in an area where a sign warning of a change in speed limit was hidden behind a bush. This trap had ensnared motorist John Coombes who had never received a speeding ticket in 32 years of driving. He called it "highway robbery."
Prosecutors argued that a speed camera photographed him traveling more than 30 MPH on the B3139 Bath Road at Horrington on July 4, 2005. The bright, sunny day and overgrown bushes made it impossible to see the sign signifying the speed limit had lowered from 40 MPH. Photographs introduced as evidence documented the visibility problems. Nonetheless, Mendip magistrates and later the Bristol Crown Court on appeal found Coombes guilty despite the unseen sign, and imposed on him a penalty of £629 (US $1225) in fees and fines for attempting to challenge the system.
The High Court ruling canceled the penalties imposed on Coombes and ordered the government to pay his legal costs.