Spurs’ Erik Lamela banned from driving for six months after speeding raps

·3-min read
 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)

Spurs’ goal of the season winner Erik Lamela has been banned from driving for six months after racking up 15 points on his licence.

The 29-year-old Argentine winger was caught speeding three times in the space of two weeks last May on a stretch of road close to Tottenham’s north London training ground.

He was spared a driving ban when he was sentenced, thanks to a flaw in the court system which meant magistrates were unaware of his driving record.

However Lamela’s case was reopened today and he was disqualified for six months, after the DVLA alerted Wimbledon magistrates court to the error.

Lamela, a rumoured transfer target for top Serie A clubs this summer, won Match of the Day’s goal of the season award this week for his ‘rabona’ strike against Arsenal.

The Evening Standard previously revealed how Lamela, his Spurs teammate Eric Dier, and the club’s former stars Jan Vertonghen and Jermain Defoe were all caught out by a newly-installed speed camera in a 40mph zone on the A10 in Enfield last May.

Lamela’s Land Rover was clocked at 52mph on May 8, 48mph on May 13, and 48mph again on May 20, landing him with nine penalty points, £760 in fines, and costs and fees totalling £338.

But when each of the cases were dealt with - through the closed-door Single Justice Procedure - Lamela’s DVLA record could not be found and the magistrate opted to sentence him without it.

Courts are supposed to automatically consider disqualifying a driver when they receive 12 more points on their licence, but it emerged today that Lamela racked up a total of 15 points on his licence before the error was spotted.

Bizarrely, when the footballer was sentenced for the last of his three speeding offences, on January 27 this year, he was ordered to pay just a £40 fine because he had told the court in writing that his weekly wage was £60, rather than £60,000.

At that hearing, conducted behind-closed-doors, Lamela was already facing a driving disqualification but was once again sentenced in the absence of his driving record and the magistrate did not consider a road ban.

The footballer did not attend court today, and had not responded to letters sent to his north London mansion which warned him of an impending driving disqualification.

The Standard became aware of the faulty sentencing of Lamela in February, but questions to the DVLA went unanswered.

Other drivers have been identified as passing the 12-point threshold without being considered for disqualification, including a motorist who was handed 18 points in the space of a fortnight by London magistrates. He was never considered for a ban and his case has not been referred back by the DVLA.

The Ministry of Justice is aware of the flaw in the system, which can allow motorists who should have faced a ban to remain on the road.

In August last year fresh guidance was issued to magistrates court legal advisers, telling them what to do if a search for a defendant’s DVLA record comes back as ‘no trace’, to try to cut down the number of cases slipping through the net.

Staff were advised to look for other multiple cases on the system featuring the same defendant, possible mistakes in the motorist’s personal details, and alternative spellings of a name.

If there was evidence that a driving record existed but could not immediately be found, staff were advised to adjourned the case and seek further information from the police.

The MoJ suggested the flaw only occurs in a “very small percentage” of cases, with the DVLA being able to spot errors and refer them back to court to be reopened and sentenced again.

Freedom of Information requests by the Standard revealed that neither the DVLA nor the MoJ holds records showing how many drivers are re-sentenced after initially not being considered for an automatic ban.

The MoJ added that cases dealt with under the Single Justice Procedure or in open court were treated in the same way, and said efforts are underway to try to improve the record-matching process.

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