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Using vehicle in a dangerous condition, Inverness, 11 December 2017, Not Guilty

A slightly unusual case brought under section 40A of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The allegation was that our client was using a vehicle in a dangerous condition. The basis of this was that he was driving a range rover, pulling a trailer full of hay. The hay was piled high and, from the photographs taken by the police, appeared extremely unstable. It looked as if the high pile of hay could fall over at any time. One of the police officers gave evidence that “I have never seen anything like it. I couldn’t believe my eyes”.
The same officer spoke to gaps between the bales of hay as proof that the hay was moving during the journey.
Although this offence only carries 3 points, our client had 9 live points on his licence at the time. He therefore faced a totting-up disqualification of 6 months. As someone with a haulage business, this was out of the question. Moreover his position was effectively “appearances can be deceptive” and that the hay was perfectly secure.
The case proceeded to trial. Under cross-examination, both police officers eventually admitted that they had not actually seen the hay move during the course of the journey. One of the officers, who had experience in loading hay bales onto vehicles, also conceded under cross-examination, that the gaps could have been caused by securing the bales tightly with ratchet straps.

Verdict – Not Guilty.

This case was defended by Steven Farmer on 11 December 2017 at Inverness Justice of the Peace Court