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Nwicker60
12-Jul-16, 17:29
Sheriff refrains from banning hi-speed driver

A SYMPATHETIC sheriff took the current plight of the oil and gas industry into account when sentencing an off-shore worker police clocked at 89mph on a busy Caithness road.

Sheriff Andrew Berry has been taking a tough line with high-speed offenders by imposing disqualification instead of penalty points but made an exception in the case of Gerald Marsden.

The 40-year-old was caught on March 23, on the A9 near Georgmas where a 60mph limit is in force..

Marsden, of The Bungalow, Spittal, regularly makes the 200-mile plus journey to Aberdeen on his way to his work. Wick Sheriff Court heard at the weekend.

Sheriff Berry, who had ordered Marsden to appear personally, commented that he had dealt with a considerable number of cases recently involving drivers travelling at "ludicrous speeds".

However, the sheriff wondered what the consequences might be for Marsden's job if he imposed disqualification.

The accused, said to be the sole breadwinner in a relationship including three children, replied that he would not lose his job but a ban to would cause him "considerable inconvenience".

Sheriff Berry said he had to consider if a driving ban would make someone's job untenable and went on: "I am fully aware at this particular time, that there is not a lot of recruitment going on in the oil and gas industry, precisely the opposite."

The sheriff fined Marsden 400 and endorsed his licence with six penalty points and made the general comment; "It is critical that where a licence is particularly important, great care is exercised with speed on straight stretches of road."

There were, however, no mitigating factors in the case of another speeder who was banned for four months after he also admitted falling foul of the speed restriction bordering Loch Rangag on the A9, and a record.

Unemployed Steven O' Brien was tracked travelling at 86mph, on April 26. He pleaded guilty and blamed "an error of judgement".

O'Brien was said to be due to start a job with a contractor in Kirkwall.

Sheriff Berry noted the accused's record, which included two previous speeding offences and one of careless driving, and continued: "On that occasion, five penalty points were imposed taking you close to disqualification and here you are driving at 86mph in a 60mph limit." (O'Brien currently has 11 points on his licence one away from the 12 points maximum which triggers an automatic ban of three months)

The sheriff banned O' Brien, of Kilcaraig, Bridge Street, Halkirk village, for four months to "underline the gravity of this offence" and stressed that the eleven points on his licence remain active. A fine of 400 was also imposed.