Police launch appeal against sentence after Lakenheath ‘idiot’ caught going 154mph on A11 is banned for 56 days

Louie Howlett at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates Court.

Louie Howlett at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates Court.

A sentence appeal has been launched by police after a mechanic was disqualified from driving for 56 days – for doing 154mph on the A11.

Louie Howlett, who was labelled an “idiot” by Norfolk police and crime commissioner Lorne Green, admitted going at more than twice the national speed limit on the southbound carriageway at Icklingham.

Despite clocking the second fastest speed in Norfolk in the last five years, Howlett, 21, was given an eight-week ban and £365 in fines.

After the case at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court, Insp David Giles from Norfolk and Suffolk roads policing unit lodged a request for a review of the sentence.

He said: “There can be no excuses and I’m not condoning speeding at all, but we’re faced with a world here that someone can get caught four times doing less than 40mph and get a ban for far longer than someone doing 154mph,” he said.

Had Howlett continued at the same speed without any impediments, he would have been in central London within half an hour, or pulling up at the quayside at Southampton in little more than 70 minutes.

In court yesterday Howlett, of Lakenheath High Street, was asked by magistrates what was going through his mind at the time. He answered: “Not a great deal.”

Most Read

Sue Burton-Griffiths, chairman of the magistrates, said: “This really was a stupid thing to do. I hope you appreciate that fact, especially as you will be paying a lot of money for a long time.”

Howlett was caught at 8.55pm on April 18 this year.

Magistrates left the room to consider Howlett’s sentence, coming back with the 56-day ban and also handing him a £250 fine, plus additional costs bringing the total he owed the court up to £365.

“I’m very sorry for what I’ve done,” Howlett told the court.

He said he had some “issues” at home and worked as a mechanic at Gorse Motors in Barnham. Howlett was caught by a laser speed detector in an unmarked police BMW that was patrolling in the area.

Insp Giles said the shortness of the ban did not send out the right message, describing it as a “shocking speed”.

“He’s a young driver, an inexperienced driver. He’s a got a modified car, I understand, but police are trained to pursue people and enforce the law at a high speed,” he added.

“I would have expected a year’s ban for that and going forward when he gets his licence back a retake of his driving test. I don’t think a £365 fine is at all significant.”

This was Howlett’s first offence and he had a clean licence before his court appearance after four years of driving.

How could someone be so stupid?

Only a single incident has been recorded at a higher speed in Norfolk over the last five years, when a 36-year-old man was caught at 161mph on the A47 at West Walton.

The highest speeds in Norfolk have been decreasing over the last few years, falling from that high in 2012 to 110mph clocked in the A11 last year, by a 42-year-old man.

Lorne Green, police and crime commissioner for Norfolk, described Howlett’s speed as “absolutely outrageous”.

“It is almost inconceivable how someone can be so absolutely irresponsible, not only for their own welfare but the welfare of everyone else on the road,” he said.

“I think we need to educate by example. We will be unveiling a reinforced road safety campaign in the months ahead to try to provide graphic evidence to young people in particular what the consequences of reckless driving are. “Education, speed watch and random checks are effective but if there is an idiot out there who wants to go at 154mph there is not much one can do. How someone can be so absolutely stupid as to put their own life at risk is beyond me.”

PCC calls for a change in the law for tougher punishments

Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said he was “horrified” at the sentence and has called for changes in the law to punish these types of offences harder.

“I have to say that I find this attitude by any driver grossly irresponsible. We’ve got to do something about this mentality of people and I would describe them as cavalier to put yourself and other people’s lives at risk.

“These sentences have got to be reviewed because they’re completely inappropriate. This sentence (56 days) falls way, way short of what’s required. It’s not good enough but we’ve got to do more to make speeding as socially unacceptable as drink or drug driving.

“This sentence doesn’t help at all. It comes across as a joke. Where’s the deterrent effect?

“Sadly, we know from the data that the risk is greatest for young, male drivers under the age of 25, therefore the ones going to be involved in serious accidents and fatalities.”

Mr Passmore said he was “right behind” moves to raise the potential sentencing powers for speeding, saying he will bring it up at the next meeting of the local Criminal Justice Board.

He said the ban for speeding like this should be “months or years and not just a handful of days”.

“My big concern is that it doesn’t send the right message out. It’s unjust. I’m horrified, I really am.”