Jailed Speed Camera Victim Hits Back15 February 2005
A motorist who was sent to prison because he refused to pay his £60 speeding fine is to give evidence in the European Court of Human Rights to help prove speed cameras are there to raise cash.
When Ernest Harbon was caught speeding he refused to pay his £60 fine. He stood by his principles. It was an open stretch of country road so Mr Harbon assumed the limit to be 40mph. Earnest Harbon (62) is a Painter and Decorator - a driver with 40 years experience and a clean driving licence. His crime was doing 38mph in a 30mph zone.
He was sentenced to 14 days in prison. He was handcuffed in court and taken down to a cell with a serial offender whose pastime was self mutilation. Then he was sent to Leicester prison. On arrival he was told to strip naked with both male and female prison wardens watching. Ernest Harbon had now become prisoner number JH7915. His first night was spent locked in a cell with a drug addicted rent boy. Sleep was impossible - drug addicts were banging on doors, screaming - desperate for their next fix.
He had not eaten for 23 hours. Breakfast the next morning made him ill. Ernest was taken to the doctor. Prisoner JH7915 was asked: “What are you in for?” Mr Harbon replied: “I’m making a stand against speed cameras.” The doctor shook his hand with a firm grip of congratulation. Other prison staff were proud of Ernest too - Ernest had become a hero in his new world.
Ernest was released after seven days for good behaviour - wardens and inmates cheered as he departed. Ernest had thousands of letters of support from the public after his release.
Since leaving prison Ernest has suffered from severe depression and anxiety attacks. He has twice been taken to hospital by ambulance. The Government has revoked his driving licence because Ernest refuses to admit his crime. He says the hidden mobile speed camera was illegally placed and no speed limit signs were visible, however he cannot afford the finances to prove his case - Ernest now has no licence and no job.
Ernest has found a cause. He went to a website (www.carparts-direct.co.uk ) and left his story online. The company are on a crusade to stop the Government banning radar detectors. Car Parts Direct supplies the Quintezz XT7000 speed camera spotter. The Quintezz can detect the 2,500 mobile cameras that most other devices cannot detect - Ernest was prosecuted due to a hidden mobile speed camera.
Car Parts Direct caused outrage when they announced that motorists using their £199 Quintezz camera detection device would have their £60 speeding ticket paid if they received a ticket while their unit was fitted. Mark Cornwall of Car Parts Direct said, “The Government love easy money from the motorist – Ernest had no chance. The Government wants to catch and fine motorists - it’s not about slowing them down - the Quintezz radar detector is about the only defence the motorist has left.”
At the last count 15,059 motorists were in prison for various motoring offences - yet only 10,178 housebreakers were under lock and key. Speed camera revenue was around £112 million last year – and still rising. A £60 speeding ticket is issued about every 15 seconds. At the last count 286,186 motorists had their driving licences taken away - most due to the speed camera points system.
The Government admit using hidden mobile cameras and say that radar detectors are affecting their income. Mark Cornwall says that sales of the Quintezz radar detector are strong with motorists desperate to keep their licences - and avoid fines. Cornwall added “A Mori-poll found that a motorist with a radar detector is 28% less likely to have an accident - it is a road safety device too.”
Cornwall said: “Alistair Darling should keep the Quintezz radar detector as it is now - legal to buy and to use. Alternatively, he should stop the use of hidden speed cameras and motorists would not need our device.
Alistair Darling was unavailable for comment and a spokesman from his office who would only be named as Ian, confirmed the Government would continue to use hidden mobile speed cameras - the spokesman added the Government would not back down on trying to outlaw the Quintezz radar detector.
Ernest Harbon said: “A driver without a radar detector is asking to be banned. When I get my licence back I will not drive without one. It’s easy to slip over the limit. It has wrecked my life.”