A CONVICTED drink-driver who was caught driving while she was banned from the road has walked free because of the length of time it took police to bring her to court.
Thirty-six year old Amanda Milner, from Chaloner’s Road in York, admitted driving whilst disqualified, and driving without insurance when she appeared before District Judge Adrian Lower at York Magistrate’s Court on Thursday last week.
The judge said that Miss Milner would have gone to prison for breaking the court order banning her from driving, had she been brought to court soon after her offence, and criticised the police for leaving the case unresolved for so long.
He said: “I am not condoning what you have done at all, and had you come before me sooner and admitted your offence you would have gone to prison. But as almost half a year has gone by I am not going to punish you.”
The judge added that any punishment handed down five months after the event would be utterly unrelated to the offence, and gave Miss Milner an absolute discharge.
Shortly after the Milner case, District Judge Lower heard the case of Shelley Cline, who pleaded guilty to two counts of assault by beating. He handed Ms Cline, of Orchard Gardens, an absolute discharge as her case had also been delayed by North Yorkshire Police.
He said: “The police have taken almost six months to get this case to court, then when they do, they’ve got the wrong date on the papers.
“You should have been sentenced for this offence back in March. There is simply no explanation as to why it has taken so long to get you before the court.”
The judge said he found it “wholly offensive”
to be asked to sentence someone for a crime committed so long ago, and said he would take up both women’s cases, as well as many others, with senior officers at North Yorkshire Police.
The cases were the latest in a series of criticisms of the police from District Judge Lower, who, in July, gave a shoplifter a softer sentence because of police delays, and on another occasion let a burglar and disqualified driver go with absolute discharges after they were summonsed to court months after their crimes.
Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick said: “Bringing criminals to justice swiftly is in everyone’s interests – the victim, the public and the police. That is why, in cases such as these, the rules are that offenders are charged to be brought before a court within six months of the date of their offence.
“At North Yorkshire Police, we do everything we can to investigate and process cases promptly, so that they can come to court within that six months deadline. However, there are many factors involved in determining the timescales, and some of these – for example, court availability - are outside the control of the police.
"We can’t be held solely responsible for the speed of the system as a whole, although we are actively working with other criminal justice partners - including the courts - to make the process more efficient.
“Sentencing is, quite rightly, at the discretion of the judge, and a judge can choose to discharge a case if they feel there is just cause to do so.
“However, as a police service, we see the effects of such decisions on the victims of crime, and the disappointment it can cause when perpetrators escape justice as a result.
“If the criminal justice system is to improve, we all need to work together constructively to address the real issues that stand in the way of victims getting the outcome they deserve.”