Celtic manager Neil Lennon banned from driving

Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: PA
Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Picture: PA
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Celtic manager Neil Lennon was banned from driving after being found guilty of speeding at a notorious accident blackspot on the A9.

A clearly irate Lennon, 42, branded the court verdict “nonsense” after he was disqualified for six months under the totting up procedure.

The court was told that Lennon already had nine points on his driving licence when he was caught speeding near Blackford in Perthshire on 6 October last year.

The Parkhead manager, who was cleared on a technicality on another driving charge just weeks ago, tried again to use a loophole to avoid being found guilty.

Lennon tried to persuade Perth’s Justice of the Peace Court that the Gatso radar machine which clocked him driving at 83 miles per hour was not accurate.

His solicitor, Liam O’Donnell, asked for the case to be thrown out because the certificate produced by the Crown in evidence made no mention of the Gatso being accurate at the time.

But Justice of the Peace Allan Robertson rejected the no case to answer submission and then found Lennon guilty of speeding on the Perth to Stirling dual carriageway.

Lennon, from Glasgow, was found guilty of speeding in his Audi Q7 at 83 miles per hour on the A9 close to the junction with the B8081 to Blackford.

Mr Robertson said: “I have taken time to consider all the evidence before me and I believe the Crown has put forward the case beyond reasonable doubt and therefore I find you guilty.

“You were sitting on nine live points and when somebody reaches that tally they should be very careful about how they conduct themselves on the road.

“I am going to add four penalty points to your licence, which will take you over the threshold for totting up [12 points] and you will incur a six month disqualification from driving.”

Job

The Celtic manager, who sat in the dock for three hours during the trial, was also fined 260 pounds and given one month to pay the fine in full.

Mr O’Donnell had argued that Lennon should not be disqualified for the full six months but should be given a shorter, discretionary ban because of his job as Celtic manager.

He said: “He is the manager of a football team and requires to travel far and wide to watch games and watch players.

“He undertakes an enormous amount of charity work, such as dinners and golf days, and I would submit the message given by a short term disqualification would be more appropriate for a speed such as this.

“The speed he has been convicted of is 83 miles per hour in a 70. It’s not grossly excessive and I would submit it would be more equitable to submit a short term disqualification.”

But after the JP ignored the plea and banned Lennon, he left the court angry and branded the trial “nonsense.” He added: “You saw it for yourself. I do want to say something about it.”

However, he was then told not to make any further comment and was ushered away from Perth Sheriff Court by his lawyer.

The Gatso which caught Lennon speeding at 4.53 pm was set up to try and make the Blackford junction in Perthshire safer as part of an upgrading programme.

There have been a number of serious accidents at the junction and Crown expert witness PC Michael Douglas told the court it was known as an accident blackspot.

In 2009 a fatal accident inquiry heard that businessman Graham Davies may have fatally crashed on the same stretch of road after over-reacting and braking too hard when he spotted the speed camera.

Lennon joined Celtic as a player in 2000 and won several honours during his seven years with the club. He left in 2007 before returning the following year as a coach and was named manager in 2010.

A month ago, Lennon was cleared of driving while using his mobile phone - after a court heard police officers failed to check it to see if it had been used.

Lennon, 42, was accused of the offence while driving a black Audi Q7 car on Glasgow’s High Street on July 26 last year.

Stipendiary Magistrate Josephine MacLean ruled that there was no case to answer following a trial at the city’s Justice of the Peace court.

The judge accepted an argument from Lennon’s solicitor that the Crown failed to provide the evidence necessary to convict him.