Ashley Cole found guilty of speeding at 100mph after bid to blame paparazzi

ENGLAND footballer Ashley Cole has been found guilty of driving at more than 100mph in a 50mph zone.

The Chelsea star was driving his black Lamborghini Gallardo on the A3 in Kingston, Surrey, when a speed gun recorded him travelling at 104mph.

Cole, who did not attend court for his trial, denied the charge, claiming that he was being chased by paparazzi at the time.

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However, magistrates' chairwoman Judith Jewell told Kingston Magistrates' Court: "We find that we were convinced enough by the evidence, given that he was travelling at 104mph.

"Our reasons are that we feel the evidence of the police officer was credible, and we feel entitled to believe that the equipment was operating properly."

The sentencing was adjourned until the end of the month so that Cole could be present. Ms Jewell warned he may be banned from driving.

Describing the events of 17 November, 2008, Richard Lomax, prosecuting, said: "The defendant was stopped and spoken to and the words he said at the time, when it became plain that somebody was pointing a speed camera at him, were, 'Can't you do anything about those idiots who keep chasing me?'."

Cole, 29, told police he thought he was driving at 80mph when he was stopped just after midday.

Mr Lomax said: "The Crown says there can be no other sensible construction of the words uttered by Mr Cole at the time than that he was conceding he was driving at a speed more than 50mph.

"It is plain that he found the attention of persons with cameras unwelcome and he was trying to get away from them.

"The only sensible inference therefore is that he was going too quickly."

The fact that Cole, married to singer and presenter Cheryl Cole, may have been trying to avoid photographers was irrelevant, magistrates were told.

"It cannot be a defence to the offence of speeding that one is trying to get away (from] members of the press showing excessive attention," Mr Lomax said.

Traffic officer John Wills, of Surrey Police, who was carrying out speed checks that day, said he initially noticed Cole's car because "it seemed to be travelling considerably faster" than any other vehicle.

PC Wills and a colleague got in a police car after recording his speed and Cole was pulled over at a nearby bus stop.

Cole was asked to get out of the car by PC Wills, who told the court: "I asked him if he knew what the speed limit was on that stretch of road, and he replied 50.

"Then I asked him what speed he was doing, and he said 80mph. I pointed out he was doing considerably more than that and showed him the laser device."

The officer said that after being cautioned, Cole complained about being pursued by photographers.

PC Wills said: "He pointed out that there was a man with a camera some distance further down the road.

"I saw him (the photographer] at that time, but I had no idea when he turned up. He was certainly not in evidence when I first saw the Lamborghini."

Lawyers representing Cole, of Godalming, Surrey, tried to adjourn yesterday's case to allow evidence from an expert on speed guns to be considered, but Ms Jewell refused.

Katherine Hodson, defending, then claimed that the speed gun operated by PC Wills may not have been operating properly.

She argued unsuccessfully that Cole had no case to answer, as PC Wills had not been present when the device underwent its annual calibration, a measure stipulated by the Association of Chief Police Officers' code of conduct.

Ms Jewell, who heard that PC Wills had a certificate proving the equipment was in fact working correctly, also refused that application.

Cole will be sentenced at the court on 29 January.