Mario Lemina's motoring fine reduced from £96,425 to £2,301

19th September 2018 Criminal Defence

On 3 September Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina pleaded guilty at Aldershot Magistrates Court to three counts of failing to inform the police of who was driving his car when it was caught speeding. The other offences with which Lemina was charged, of driving at 95mph on a dual carriageway and twice travelling at 60mph in a temporary 40mph zone, were then dropped against Lemina on the basis that it was not him that was driving the car.

Initially the Magistrates fined Lemina £32,000 for each offence. It was held that each offence should have attracted a fine of £48,000, however Lemina’s guilty pleas reduced the fines by one third. An additional £85 cost per case and a victim surcharge of £170 increased the total fine to £96,425. Lemina was also awarded 18 points, which alongside the 21 points that he already had on his license, meant that he was disqualified from driving for a period of one year.

The following week the record fine was then reduced to £2,301 on the basis that the Magistrates had gone beyond their sentencing powers in awarding the excessive fine.

The Sentencing Guidelines

When sentencing a defendant all courts must follow the sentencing guidelines. These are guidelines prepared by the Sentencing Council which outline what sentence a defendant should receive for any given offence. The aim of such guidelines is to ensure that a defendant receives the same sentence regardless of the court in which he is sentenced.

The sentencing guidelines state that the starting point for failing to give information of a driver’s identity is a band c fine. The starting point for such a fine is 150% of a defendant’s weekly income and the range is 125 175% of a defendant’s weekly income. The sentencing guidelines further state however that the maximum fine that can be imposed for each offence is a level 3 fine, which amounts to £1,000.

The court must also consider whether a defendant is entitled to a reduction to their sentence for pleading guilty. Such credit operates on a sliding scale, with a defendant being entitled to a one-third reduction for a guilty plea at the first stage of the proceedings down to a one-tenth reduction if a plea is entered on the first day of the trial.

The amended fine awarded to Lemina demonstrates clearly how the sentencing guidelines work. The footballer was fined £1,000 in respect of each of the offences, and a one-third reduction was offered taking the fine down to £2,000. The victim surcharge and costs were then added, taking the total up to £2,301.

Many of the reports on Lemina’s case have suggested that the reason for the error was that the Magistrates followed the guidelines for speeding offences rather than for failing to give information. An analysis of the speeding offences guidelines demonstrates however that this is not the case. As with the offence of failing to provide information, speeding offences attract a maximum fine of £1,000 per offence; unless the speeding occurred on the motorway in which case a £2,500 fine may be imposed.

The issue seems therefore to be not that the Magistrates followed the wrong sentencing guidelines, but instead that they disregarded the maximum fine outlined by the Sentencing Council.

FAQ

When do I need to pay the fine by? Can I pay it in instalments?

When you are sentenced, the notice of fine will include the date by which you are required to pay. If you are struggling to make the payment by the date on your notice of fine, we would suggest writing to the court requesting to pay the fine in instalments, over a longer period, or at a later date. This is something that JMW can assist you with.

What happens if the court order me to pay a fine and I do not pay?

If you do not pay your fine, the court may do the following:

  • Recover the money from your wages or benefits
  • Commence enforcement action
  • Register the fine. This will mean that your fine will stay on your credit history for 5 years and may stop you from getting credit in the future.
  • In extreme circumstances the court may also sentence you to a custodial sentence.

If you do not pay the fine by the date that you are required to the court may issue a summons. This hearing is the opportunity for you to demonstrate what you can afford to pay. At such a hearing the Judge may increase your fine by 50% or send your case to the High Court. It is therefore recommended that you instruct a solicitor to assist at such a hearing.

Do I have to declare the conviction to my insurers?

If you have recently been convicted of a motoring offence, you may have to declare this to your insurers. Whilst it is not an automatic obligation, you should check the terms and conditions of your insurance policy to see whether this is a requirement. If you wish for a member of our team to review your insurance policy to check this, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

If you believe that you have been incorrectly fined by the court please do not hesitate to contact JMW’s Motoring Offences Department on 0345 872 6666.

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Sadie Thomson is a Solicitor located in Manchester in our Business Crime & Regulation department

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