Vascular Surgeon convicted at Truro Crown Court of Perverting the Course of Justice over speeding offence.,
Judge Linford at Truro Crown Court sentenced Wisam Taha to 3 months imprisonment suspended, £2000 fine, plus £300 costs and victim surcharge on Friday 3rd May 2019.
Wisam Taha, a vascular surgeon from Birmingham is the registered keeper of a blue Vauxhall Caddy van that was caught speeding by a Peninsula Road Safety Partnership Speed Enforcement Officer, on the A30 at Dunheved in Cornwall on Tuesday 15th May 2018.
The van was travelling at 89mph, the speed limit was 70mph.
On receiving his Notice of Intended Prosecution Mr Taha, completed, signed and returned the form, nominating a Hungarian male as the driver.
A NOIP was sent to the address provided in Hungary but came back no trace, Mr Taha was again contacted and he then provided an address in Canada for the Hungarian male. Mr Taha stated he had lent the male his car whilst the male was on holiday in the UK. No-one other than Mr taha and his wife were insured on the vehicle.
Mr Taha denied even visiting Cornwall.
Police Constable Abi Bedson, one of the 2 police investigators within the safety camera unit, who's role it is to investigate all 'questionable' nominations, made further inquiries regarding any persons with the name provided by Mr Taha as entering the country around the material dates, whilst another NOIP was sent to the Canadian address.
Inquiries were also made with Treliske Hospital in Truro regarding Mr Taha working there on a locum basis.
The NOIP sent to Canada was returned with not known at this address type reply. Mr Taha was again contacted and provided a story that he had spoken to his elderly father in Hungary asking for further address's and stating he had done everything in his power to provide an address for the male and it was now causing stress for his elderly father.
Mr Taha also rang the safety camera unit direct after he received a summons for failing to identify the driver, again stating he had discharged his responsibility to identify the driver.
PC Bedson made contact with Mr Taha and even provided him with a image of the driver of the vehicle, captured at the time of the offence using cameras that have an effective range over 1000m, (891m in this instance) despite the driver bearing a striking resemblance to Mr Taha's driving licence photograph, he maintained it was the Hungarian male.
Mr Taha was interviewed for perverting the course of justice and even when presented with the photographic evidence and confirmation that he was registered as working at Treliske as a locum on the day of the speeding offence he denied he was the driver.
At this point he did remember visiting Cornwall and doing the odd shift at Treliske, but maintained it was not him. He was unable to explain how he sent a text from Treliske, initially trying to state he lent the Hungarian male is phone as well, until it was pointed out to him his phone had been at his home address only hours before yet he had claimed to have lent the car to the male 3 days previously.
He was unable to account for why there was no record of the male he had nominated entering or leaving the United Kingdom even close to the dates he had provided.
Mr Taha obviously did not expect the Peninsula Road Safety Partnership and the police officers working within it to actually examine his claim of an international nomination and tried to lie his way out of a speeding ticket that would have added 3 points on his licence and a small fine to the one he finally received.
PC Bedson stated "All nominations for internationally based drivers are followed up, there seems to be a misconception that we will accept them on face value, when in fact we follow up and investigate every nomination. This conviction and those of Count Alexy Kimmenade and Fiona Onsanya who tried exactly the same a few months back reinforces the fact that these offences are not taken lightly and even with previous good character a prison sentence is a real possibility."
2 high speed drivers fined £13,000, 99 points on their licences and disqualified for 8 years.
Newton Abbott Magistrates Court fined 2 Qatar service personnel, who were based at Britannia Royal Naval College, when they committed a total of 25 speeding tickets between in one month.
Al-Ishaq was fined £7810, ordered to pay £77 victim surcharge and £85 costs, given 61 points and disqualified from driving for 4 years, the second more ‘lenient’ sentence given to Al-Mahmoud was only £4810, ordered to pay £77 victim surcharge and £85 costs, 38 points and disqualified from driving for four years.
On 5th June 2018 the Peninsula Road Safety Partnership, captured 2 internationally registered Black Mercedes exceeding the speed limit on the A385 Ashburton Road, coming out of Totnes.
There quickly followed a series of offences in Plymouth, with one driver, Tameem Mohammed Al-Ishaq recorded at 53 mph on Royal Parade in Plymouth on the camera right next to the busy pedestrian crossing, plus several in the high 50’s low 60’s along the A374 Embankment. In total 15 offences.
The second Mercedes, driven by Ahmed Al-Mahmoud racked up another 10 speeding offences of a similar speed, including 97mph in a 70 limit on the A38.
Following some good old fashioned detective work and examination in detail of the writing on the registration numbers identified them as from Qatar, both vehicles having been imported by their owners. Markers were placed on both vehicles nationally and it soon became apparent that offences had also been captured for both vehicles outside of our area, but Devon & Cornwall remained as the lead investigators, the other offences were laid on file rather than complicated the investigation further with cross jurisdiction Court prosecution issues.
The vehicles were stopped in the West Midlands and London and initial addresses provided proved to be out of date or false. However they used their Qatar driving licences as proof of identification.
Subsequent enquiries between the Ministry of Defence in London and the Qatar Embassy, resulted in both drivers being identified as international students at Britannia Royal Naval College.
The Commanding Officers at Britannia Royal Naval College cannot be faulted in the assistance they provided the Police, it was one of the first cases the new No Excuse Team became involved in, full access was provided and all of the 25 Notices of Intended Prosecution were hand served on the 2 International Naval Officers. The Royal Navy also dealt with both officers under their own disciplinary code.
Both students accepted their Notices, but then went down the ‘Loop Hole’ lawyer route employing the services of a London firm specializing in such issues. Neither turned up for the first court hearing so confident where they in their Lawyers. Despite their not guilty pleas, both were found guilty in the absence, and sentencing was adjourned from Bodmin magistrates Court on 27th November 2018 to Newton Abbott Magistrates Court for disqualification on 1st February 2019.
Both were again instructed by the Court to attend, but choose not to, a decision they may now regret given the severity of their fines and disqualification period.
Marcus Laine, the Operations manager for the Peninsula Road Safety Partnership stated:
”This investigation demonstrates that it does not matter where you are from, how privileged a background you may come from, you are not above the law. The fines, points and disqualification periods imposed by the Magistrates absolutely reflects the dim view taken by the bench and the partnership towards excessive and persistent speeders.
All of the roads were these offences have taken place have had series and fatal collisions in the past. Driving through Plymouth City Centre and in particular Royal parade at almost twice the speed limit, any member of the public that had been involved in a collision with these pair would have most likely resulted in a death.
Had we not identified them as quickly as we did and let it be known that such driving behaviour would not be tolerated, I’m sure we would have been dealing with at least one fatality, either the drivers or an innocent member of the public.
We would like to that the Royal Navy for their exemplary assistance in this matter, even post-conviction the Commanding Offices of Britannia Naval College have offered their assistance to the Court with regard to fine correspondence and ensuring it reaches it intended destination, now that the students are no longer at the College.