Take Me Out star Paddy McGuinness avoided a driving ban today after star lawyer Nick ‘Mr Loophole’ Freeman beat the case – even though his client had previously pleaded guilty.
The 44-year-old comedian was taken to court after his personalised Land Rover was caught by a speed camera being driven at 50mph in a 40mph zone on the outskirts of Manchester in August last year.
He was later charged with failing to identify the driver of the car after he claimed he thought his car might have been in a garage at the time.
In April this year Mr McGuinness pleaded guilty and was warned he faced being banned from the roads because he would have had 12 points on his licence.
But today he brought Nick Freeman with him to Manchester Magistrates’ Court, who convinced the Phoenix Nights star to change his plea to not guilty.
Mr Freeman, 61, whose previous clients have included David Beckham, Sir Alex Ferguson, Van Morrison and explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, said his client, from Prestbury, Cheshire, had moved house three times in two years and had not received a notice of intended prosecution or a reminder from police.
Take Me Out star Paddy McGuinness leaves Manchester Magistrates’ Court today with Mr Loophole Nick Freeman who helped him beat a driving ban
Mr McGuinness and his wife Christine Martin (pictured) have moved house three times in two years and police failed to get the right paperwork to him, the court heard
Prosecutors then caved in and as his case was dismissed Mr McGuinness said: ‘Thank you’ before bending down to pick his car keys up and leaving. He did not comment after the hearing.
McGuinness formally pleaded not guilty to failing to give information relating to the identification of the driver of the Land Rover.
Outside court Mr Freeman said: ‘Mr McGuinness’ Range Rover was caught speeding on August 8, 2016, but my client did not believe he was the driver, as his car was having some work undertaken at about that time.
‘Mr McGuinness did not receive the notice of intended prosecution, nor the reminder, that were both allegedly sent to his home address.
‘My client is obviously relieved to have been found not guilty.’
The saga began on August 21 last year when McGuinness’s Land Rover which has a personalised number plate was caught by a speed camera on A5103 Princess Road, near Mauldeth Road West in Chorlton, Manchester.
As his case was dismissed Mr McGuinness said: ‘Thank you’ before bending down to pick his car keys up from under the table and leaving (pictured afterwards)
Mr Freeman told the hearing: ‘The defendant allegedly was served with a notice of intended prosecution but his defence is he didn’t receive it and didn’t receive a reminder.
‘He received a single justice procedure notice (SJPN) and he emailed the appropriate address and said ‘can I have a photograph please, I’m not sure it was me because my car was in the garage’. But he never received a photograph.
‘He then pleaded guilty and said the original letter must have gone missing because he moved addresses three times in two years.
‘The guilty plea was accepted but it carried six penalty points and the case was adjourned to decide a period of disqualification. In the meantime after that he contacted my firm for legal advice.
‘It was quite clear his plea was equivocal. He said he was guilty but had not received anything.
‘Our counsel spoke to the prosecution solicitor and explained the issue which was the defendant had not received the notice of intended prosecution and a reminder and that was the issue.
‘A not guilty plea was entered and the case was stood down. We wrote to the CPS by email and invited them to provide copies of any further evidence they intend to rely on. But neither myself nor my client has seen the notice of intended prosecution – at the day of trial.
‘Apparently what happened was Mr McGuinness had committed an offence of speeding on August 21. He was apparently offered a speed awareness course but he hadn’t heard anything from that.
The Take Me Out star appears o already have six points on his driving licence and the six extra points he faced would have led to a driving ban
‘We advised the court on Wednesday last week saying we had not received any information. I arrive at court with my client without absolutely anything.
‘The burden is on the Crown that he case must be prosecution led or driven. We arrive at court today and the situation is in it’s very worst case. Nothing has been served and the Crown have not complied with any of their legal duties.
‘My friend knows what the statutes are and what their duties are. There are various ingredients that they have not complied with. The whole purpose of having these provisions in place is to arrive at court and have everything in a proper manner to do the job properly. The system is clearly flawed. The ball is in the Crown’s court. That is the position as far as the defence is concerned.
‘There is no point having these rules in place if they are going to ignore the procedures and do nothing about it.
Prosecuting James Gore said: ‘The police took the lead and we are instructed at the time of the trial, it’s solely down to the police why these items have not been provided. There are a number of items of correspondence but it’s gone to a number of email addresses – none which are the people that have been dealing with this case.
‘Whilst I accept that my learned friend has been forthcoming trying to progress this matter it seems to me that that has not been received by the appropriate office. I have the documentation here, the question was he has not been served with the documentation, I don’t know what the issue was.’
He added: It’s a police led prosecution and if they come to trial the trial papers are sent to the CPS. The witness statement has been provided, the items in that statement are not exhibits. The witness is even here from the central ticket office.
‘Whilst I accept the Crown have not provided an unused material document that doesn’t go to the heart of the issue of the case. The issue is whether he received the items or not that can only be done by giving evidence.
‘We have a photograph which takes us not much further because it’s simply the back of the car showing its number plate. Could this matter proceed today, I can suggest it would.
‘The issue has been raised he didn’t receive it, it’s something you’re capable of working with. I’ve got copies of the notice of intended prosecution and the photographs I can provide him with.’
But later after magistrates retired to consider the argument Mr Gore added: ‘I’ve taken full instruction and we offer no evidence.’
McGuinness, of Prestbury, Cheshire spoke to give his full name, address and date of birth and to formally pleading not guilty to the charge of failing to give information relating to the identification of the driver of the Land Rover.