A DISABLED Sunderland man found over the limit on his mobility scooter with two other men on board has been cleared of drink driving – because it couldn’t be proved he was carrying passengers on purpose.
And today Colin Beven, who suffers from a spinal condition, branded a decison to take him to court as “a waste of money”.
The 47-year-old, of Hawthorn Street, Millfield, denied driving with excess alcohol and without a valid licence and using a vehicle without insurance when he appeared before city magistrates yesterday.
He had been arrested in the early hours of June 22 and a breath test revealed a reading of 88 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.
John McGlone, prosecuting, told magistrates that a disabled person using a mobility scooter would normally be exempt from the Road Traffic Act, unless they were carrying passengers.
But he told the court there had been two men on the scooter with Mr Beven when he was stopped, adding: “The fact he was carrying two passengers on that vehicle means he was not using it solely for himself, therefore, it does not comply with the criteria to be exempted.”
Pc Marie Duke told the court she had seen the scooter in Matamba Terrace, Millfield, in the early hours of June 22.
Mr Beven was driving, while another man sat on his lap and a third was on the back.
But when asked by Willie Johnstone, defending, whether she had identified the other two men, Pc Duke replied: “I was not concerned with the passengers, it was the driver of the carriage I was concerned with.”
Mr Beven told the court he was on his way home up Hylton Road, when he passed a group of men at a bus stop close to the junction with Matamba Terrace.
As he passed them, two jumped on to the scooter, one beside him and the other at the back.
Mr Beven denied either man had been sitting in his lap, saying: “I would not have been able to drive the scooter if there had been anyone on my knee,” he said.
Asked by Mr Johnstone, “As far as you were concerned, were you giving these lads a lift?” he replied. “No.”
Asked, “You had not seen them before?” he again replied, “No.”
Asked by Mr McGlone why he did not simply stop, Mr Beven added: “All I wanted to do was get them off my scooter. My thinking was that if I was going the opposite way to where they wanted to go, they would have to jump off.”
Mr Johnstone told the court the prosecution had failed to prove Mr Beven was not exempt from the law.
“Mr Beven can drink as much as he wants, do whatever he wants to with that scooter, as long as he does not carry passengers,” he said.
Mr Johnstone said the police could not disprove Mr Beven’s version of events, adding: “They did not see how the lads got onto his carriage.
“What it boils down to is, was he giving these lads a lift as passengers? Was he taking them home?
“The Crown has to prove that beyond reasonable doubt.”
Magistrates agreed the prosecution had not proved Mr Beven knew the men and he was cleared of all charges.
Speaking after the hearing, he said: “I am just pleased it is all out of the way. It has been a waste of money.
“It is ludicrous – if they had done their job in the first place, spoken to the people who were on the scooter with me and taken statements, it would not even have got this far.”