Anger at motorist's punishment

POLICE Federation bosses have criticised magistrates for not jailing a motorist for flouting a driving ban imposed after he careered into a policeman.Gordon Thwaites, 53, has been branded a "liability" to other motorists, but magistrates decided against imposing a fresh custodial term on the pub landlord.

POLICE Federation bosses have criticised magistrates for not jailing a motorist for flouting a driving ban imposed after he careered into a policeman.

Gordon Thwaites, 53, has been branded a "liability" to other motorists, but magistrates decided against imposing a fresh custodial term on the pub landlord.

Instead, he was fined £650 and banned from the roads for a further three years after pleading guilty to driving while disqualified and without insurance.

Two years ago, Thwaites, landlord of the Five Bells pub in Cavendish, was jailed for eight months and given a three-year driving ban after knocking Pc Graham Amey off his motorbike on the A1071 near Hadleigh.


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Pc Amey suffered a broken leg in the collision. When arrested, Thwaites was found to be more than three times the legal drink-drive limit.

Thwaites was back in court yesterday after being spotted driving while still banned for the offence that left Pc Amey injuried.

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Phil Smith, general secretary of the Suffolk Police Federation, criticised the decision not to jail Thwaites for a second time.

"I am disappointed the magistrates didn't see fit the send to this person to prison. This man clearly has little regard for the law," he said.

"I only hope that during his disqualification he sees fit to respect the law this time before he ends up causing another serious injury or even death to another motorist."

Clare Forsdyke, prosecuting, said a police officer had noticed Thwaites driving a silver Toyota along the A143 at Depden, near Haverhill, on July 12.

Knowing Thwaites was a banned driver, the officer stopped him and arrested the pub landlord, who claimed he was only driving because his partner had suffered a panic attack.

James Macwhirter, mitigating, said: "There is no suggestion he had been drinking and there was no criticism of his driving.

"This was an isolated incident 29 months into his disqualification and it was an exceptional set of circumstances that placed him behind the wheel."

Pc Amey, 45, who has served Suffolk police for 25 years, was riding along the A1071 on September 17, 2002, when he saw Thwaites' Jaguar coming towards him on the wrong side of the road.

It ploughed into Pc Amey's motorbike, leaving the officer trapped under his machine in the middle of the road. Thwaites was only captured when two members of the public prevented him from leaving the scene.

Pc Amey, who will need a pin in his leg for the rest of his life, has labelled Thwaites a liability to other road users.

"It doesn't seem like he has learned anything from this experience. It is difficult to put into words how I feel about it. He's a liability to other road users as far as I am concerned," he said.

"What's it going to take for him to take notice of his sentence? I just think he has shown a total disregard for the law."

What do you think of the punishment in this case? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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