MAGISTRATES disqualified an 81-year-old Powys speeder from driving for six months last week – but an immediate appeal filed by his solicitor means the ban will be suspended.

Frank Thomas Morris was convicted in his absence at his trial earlier this year of speeding – he was caught driving at 42 miles per hour in a 30mph zone last August in Coedway, near the Powys/Shropshire border.

Morris, of Evandale, Llandrinio, appeared at Welshpool Magistrates’ Court last week where he put forward an exceptional hardship argument as to why he should not lose his licence. Despite the fact he is 81 and is still employed, lives alone and in a rural location and has recently being diagnosed with prostate cancer, magistrates did not find that Morris would be caused exceptional hardship and disqualified him for six months.

However, Rob Hanratty, defending Morris, lodged an immediate appeal against the decision which magistrates allowed.

The original offence occurred at 9.47am on August 14 last year when the defendant was stopped driving a Nissan Qashqai on the B4393 at 12 miles over the speed limit.

Morris was convicted at trial, although he did not appear. The hearing at Welshpool last Tuesday, June 14, was told he has three points on his licence but there had been 9 on there at the time of the offence.

“Otherwise, he is a very careful driver, a very respectful man and well thought of in his community, you can see he is well dressed here in court,” said Mr Hanratty of Morris, who was dressed in a suit, shirt and tie.

“He wasn’t entirely clear what was happening last week (after his trial). He thought the court were looking at his conviction and he could redress the fact he had been convicted in his absence.

“He takes the matter seriously. The law says you have to ban him unless he can prove exceptional hardship. He is not a young speeder acquiring penalty points. He was doing 42 in a 30 zone where the downhill is very steep and you have to have your foot on the brake not to creep up above 30.

“The loss of his licence would be a potential disaster for him. He is very worried about how he will cope and the impact on his life and others.

“It is remarkable that he is still working at 81, matching cows with bulls, he has been working with the company for over 20 years. He is extremely very well thought of by his employers and farmers.

“The additional income is vital to him and his estranged wife. He has been living apart from her for nearly 50 years yet has religiously paid maintenance to her at £200 per month.

“He has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He lives by himself, has no-one to run him around and rural bus services are virtually non-existent. The loss of his licence would cause exceptional hardship.

“Take away his licence and you take away his independence. I have a letter handed in by his employer who said a ban would be to the severe detriment of local farmers.”

Magistrates disagreed with Mr Hanratty and said they did not find that the exceptional hardship case had been proved. They put four points on Morris’ licence, making him a totter, and handed him a six-month ban. He was also fined £375 and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £48 surcharge.

“We don’t find that exceptional hardship has been found,” said chair of the bench, Stephen Pembroke.

“It is unsubstantiated and unproved as there is scant information provided. We do grant the suspension of disqualification pending appeal though.”