Auckland man wins years-long speeding ticket case after police can’t find evidence


A long-running saga over an $80 speeding ticket has ended in victory for a man who has spent years battling it in the courts after police couldn’t find a copy of witness evidence.

Peter Richard Prescott​ spent more than four years contesting the speeding fine he got in West Auckland in July 2016.

A High Court judge has now thrown out the Whangaparaoa​ man’s conviction.

Prescott was ticketed after police said a car registered to his company was caught doing 64kmh in a 50kmh zone in Massey. Prescott said he was not the car’s driver or registered owner.

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Two justices of the peace in 2016 found the offence proved, but Prescott fought back.

The case escalated to the High Court, where Justice David Collins​ in 2019 said Prescott’s judicial review was an abuse of process.

“The proper course was for Mr Prescott to have applied for leave to bring a second appeal,” Justice Collins said.

Peter Prescott says he’s happy with the court victory but somewhat frustrated that it took so long.

Stuff

Peter Prescott says he’s happy with the court victory but somewhat frustrated that it took so long.

So Prescott did just that.

He had to provide evidence he was not liable for the infringement.

In his latest bid, Prescott said the infringement notice never specified the statutory provision he allegedly contravened.

He said that meant the speeding notice was flawed and the conviction couldn’t stand.

But in a newly-published judgment, Justice Graham Lang​ said there was no need for an infringement notice to specify what provision was contravened.

That ground of Prescott’s appeal was thrown out.

But Prescott also said the prosecution failed to identify him as the person driving the vehicle.

Justice Lang said the prosecutor had to provide witness evidence, but police could not find a sworn statement from a traffic camera operator.

When police could not find a sworn statement from a traffic camera operator, their case fell apart.

DAVID WALKER/STUFF/Stuff

When police could not find a sworn statement from a traffic camera operator, their case fell apart.

Justice Lang also raised questions about how the justices of the peace reached their sentence in the first place.

“The justices’ decision does not even go so far as to confirm they received evidence in an admissible form,” he said.

The onus was on prosecutors to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Prescott owned the vehicle captured in the speed camera photo.

“The absence of any evidence to establish how it discharged that onus leaves me in a position where I cannot be sure how or whether the prosecution proved the charge,” Justice Lang said.

The appeal against conviction was allowed and the district court sentence – an $80 fine and $30 costs – was quashed.

Prescott said he felt justice had finally been served.

“It’s up to the police to prove your guilt beyond reasonable doubt,” he told Stuff.

By November 2019, Prescott’s legal costs over the speeding ticket dispute were approaching $10,000.

“I never ended up paying any costs and the police didn’t pursue it.”

He said the case had taken a lot out of him but a principle was at stake, and he’d do it again if he had to.