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Athlete at centre of ‘racist’ stop and search scandal handed six-month driving ban

Sprinter Bianca Williams arriving at Lavender Hill Magistrates' Court, London
Sprinter Bianca Williams arriving at Lavender Hill Magistrates' Court, London - Jordan Pettitt / PA

A British athlete at the centre of a stop and search scandal has been given a driving ban after failing to co-operate with police.

Bianca Williams, 29, was banned for six months, despite pleading with the court that it would stop her training and jeopardise her dream of going to the Olympics next year.

In October, two police officers were sacked over a stop and search of Ms Williams and her partner, the Portuguese sprinter Ricardo Dos Santos, 29, after the officers were found to have lied about smelling cannabis coming from their car.

Bianca Williams during a stop and search by police in July 2020
Two police officers were sacked in October over a stop and search of Ms Williams and her partner in 2020 - IOPC / Universal News

On Monday, Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court in south London heard Ms Williams had failed on three occasions between April and June 2023 to tell police the identity of a driver alleged to have committed an offence while driving a Tesla Model 3.

The athlete, who submitted an application to try to keep her licence, claimed not driving would make it “massively inconvenient” for her to get to training.

Having pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to tell police the identity of a driver, Ms Williams told the court she was not driving the Tesla at the time of the alleged offences.

Representing herself, Ms Williams said she was working as a tennis coach in the evenings and as a full-time athlete during the day.

The sprinter, who lives in Maida Vale with her partner, said it was “massively inconvenient” to get to the central London athletics track where she trains using public transport, and “really hard” to get to her tennis coaching sessions in north London without a car.

Ms Williams, who told the court she dropped her three-year-old child off at nursery before training every morning, said losing her licence would “make my dream of going to the Olympics next year impossible”.

‘No work and no income’

She said: “It’s hard to get from nursery to training. My income would drop because I wouldn’t be able to do any coaching sessions.

“It would be horrible to lose my licence. I would potentially have no work and no income.”

Rejecting her application, magistrates chairman David Matthews said: “The bar for an exceptional hardship application is a high one. There are other means of transport.”

Ms Williams was disqualified from driving for six months and ordered to pay a fine of £276, a surcharge of £110 and £85 costs. Another 18 points were added to her licence, bringing her total to 29.

Ms Williams, who already had 11 points on her licence, said her partner Mr Dos Santos could not always help her get around because he was working as an Amazon delivery driver alongside his training.

In October, Pc Johnny Clapham and Pc Sam Franks were accused of racially profiling the couple after they were handcuffed and searched outside their west London home while their three-month-old baby was in the car in July 2020.

The officers denied their actions were racially motivated and told a police misconduct hearing that they had followed Mr Dos Santos because of the “appalling” and “suspicious” nature of his driving.

They claimed they were doing their duty when they conducted the search, but the panel concluded that the pair had lied about smelling cannabis coming from the car and their actions amounted to gross misconduct.

During his testimony at the misconduct proceedings, Mr Dos Santos accused the officers of detaining him for “DWB: driving while black”.

The hearing was told the athlete had been stopped nine times within four weeks of buying a car in 2018.

Mr Dos Santos said allegations made by the officers regarding bad driving, violence and the presence of drugs were “dishonest” and “based on racist stereotypes”.

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