6/18/2007UK: Speed Camera Could Send Sports Stars to Jail for Life
Three UK sports stars face anywhere from 8 months to life imprisonment for point-swapping on a speed camera ticket.
London speed cameras may send three UK soccer stars to jail for a sentence ranging from eight months to life imprisonment. London Metropolitan Police arrested Bobby Zamora, 26, last week and Teddy Sheringham, 41, and Shaun Newton, 31, in May all for the alleged crime of swapping speed camera points. The three athletes are currently released on bail.
Police filed the charges after a civilian ticket processor claimed that he recognized one of the footballers in a speed camera photograph. When that player sent in a notice asserting another sports figure had been behind the wheel at the time of the offense, police launched an investigation of other tickets involving sports celebrities, allowing the force to generate publicity with the high-profile arrests. Point-swapping is the practice of convincing a friend with a clean driving record to claim responsibility for a speed camera ticket so that the original recipient, usually just one ticket away from losing his license, can escape a driving ban.
Last week, the Queen recognized Sheringham's positive contributions to the nation by appointing him a Member of the Order of the British Empire. According to the Home Office, the award is made "to reward those who work and serve at the sharp end -- people who have really changed things, or who have given outstanding service to others in difficult situations."
"Perverting the course of justice and attempting to pervert the course of justice are common law offenses for which there is no statutory maximum," Undersecretary of State Gerry Sutcliffe explained in parliament last year. "The full range of penalties is therefore available. Custodial sentences of up to eight years have been imposed in recent cases. Sentences average around eight months."
About 1400 people are charged with perverting the course of justice every year. The average fine that accompanies the prison sentence is £780 (US $1560).