Bowls chief caught speeding at 130mph

A GRANDFATHER is today off the roads after driving 130mph on the A14 because he was late for a bowls match.John Atherton, of Chelsworth Road, Felixstowe, president of Suffolk Indoor Bowls Association, was on his way to teach bowls to youngsters on March 11 this year when he was caught speeding by police.

A GRANDFATHER is today off the roads after driving 130mph on the A14 because he was late for a bowls match.

John Atherton, of Chelsworth Road, Felixstowe, president of Suffolk Indoor Bowls Association, was on his way to teach bowls to youngsters on March 11 this year when he was caught speeding by police.

He claimed he was in a hurry as he did not want to set a bad example to them by being late.

The 56-year-old pleaded guilty to speeding in excess of 70mph when he appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court.

As well as being handed a hefty fine, he was also disqualified from driving for three weeks.

Prosecuting, Andrea Reynolds told the court how police officers on patrol in an unmarked car saw Atherton, who was driving a Volvo S60, join the A14 westbound carriageway via the Whitehouse slip road. He immediately went into the second lane and accelerated.

Most Read

Officers had to accelerate to 125mph to keep up with him, the court heard.

They eventually caught up with him near the Creeting villages and his speed was recorded as just over 130mph.

Mitigating for Atherton, Diana Infanti said: “He accepts he was speeding that day. He finds it hard to believe he travelled at a speed of 130mph.

“He was on his way to meet the under-16 players in the bowls club. He takes his role very seriously. He had been ill in the night with tummy troubles which is why he was late. He was concerned about setting a bad example to the youngsters.

“He said it was a moment of madness. He did not realise he was going that fast and knows it was completely out of order.”

Mrs Infanti told magistrates that Atherton needs his car to work as he drives all over the region for his job as an electrician for the East of England Co-operative Society. She said he could lose his job if he was disqualified from driving.

Mrs Infanti added that the father-of-three and grandfather-of-four also drives his disabled grandchild to hospital regularly and is heavily involved in charity work in the area, which also means driving.

Magistrates on Wednesday disqualified him from driving for 21 days and ordered him to pay a fine of £600 plus costs of £95.

A spokeswoman for road safety charity Brake said: “130mph is clearly taking a huge risk with not only the driver's life but also any other road user that he may have encountered.

“Given the severity of this crime, a 21-day ban is far too lenient. We must see courts start to hand out tougher sentences in these cases in order to act as a deterrent to other drivers who may consider speeding.”