Poll: Felixstowe Port lorry driver broke hours limit to earn more cash

Lorry driver failed to take enough breaks

Lorry driver failed to take enough breaks - Credit: Archant

A lorry driver who was facing a ban for drink-driving exceeded his permitted driving hours in a bid to increase his earnings, a court has heard.

Mark O’Donovan, who drove lorries to and from Felixstowe Port, failed to keep proper tachograph records during a month- long period which started shortly after he was stopped for driving a car with excess alcohol, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

“In anticipation of a period of disqualification, he embarked on a profitable period of working beyond his permitted hours,” said Jason Stevens, prosecuting.

O’Donovan, 43, of Grantham Avenue, Great Cornard, admitted 14 offences of knowingly make a false tachograph entry and failing to make a relevant tachograph entry from January 5 to January 31, 2012.

The court heard that O’Donovan was driving his partner’s car when he was stopped on suspicion of drink-driving on Christmas Day 2011.

Mr Stevens said that during an investigation into the tachograph offences in January 2012 records of drivers entering and leaving Felixstowe docks and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) recordings were checked.

Sentencing O’Donovan to a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, Recorder Guy Ayers described the offences as “extremely serious” and said the hours lorry drivers were permitted to work were limited to prevent overtired drivers being on the road.

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“I have the strong view that your motivation for interfering with the proper working of the tachograph was to increase your earnings before your forthcoming ban,” said the judge.

In addition to the suspended prison sentence, O’Donovan was banned from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay £2,500 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

Howard Catherall, for O’Donovan, said at the time of the tachograph offences his client’s father had been seriously ill and his relationship with his girlfriend had ended.

He claimed that O’Donovan’s world had “come crashing down” and he had sought solace in work. He denied the tachograph offences were financially motivated and said his client was now working as a lorry driver in Canada.

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