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Premier League footballer didn't know he was banned from driving

Marvin Emnes
Marvin Emnes

A Premier League footballer was disqualified from driving without his knowledge after he failed to attend two trial dates for a speeding offence and a district judge mistakenly banned him from getting behind the wheel for six months, a court has heard.

Swansea City striker Marvin Emnes, who is currently on loan at Blackburn Rovers, had his conviction for failing to provide the identity of the driver of the vehicle quashed after convincing a judge and two magistrates that he did not receive initial notices about the intended prosecution.

Swansea Crown Court heard that the 28-year-old's Range Rover was caught on camera doing 38mph in a 30mph limit zone on April 25 last year at 1.16am in Cardiff.

Sophie Hill, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said a notice of intended prosecution was issued four days later to the Dutch national's Swansea address - and a reminder letter was sent on May 23.

"No reply was received from the defendant," she said, adding that a summons was issued and Emnes was convicted in his absence of failing to provide the name of the driver at a trial held at Cardiff Magistrates' Court on December 20.

Ms Hill said the case was reopened and the offence was again proved, this time at Swansea Magistrates' Court, in the footballer's absence on January 3.

Giving evidence, Emnes said there were problems with mail at his Meridian Tower address in Swansea's Maritime Quarter and other items of post had gone missing previously.

He agreed that he received the summons, but not the two earlier letters.

Emnes' agent, Julian Hillman - of Premier Global Sports, told the court he was in fact the driver that night and the plan had been to contest the case.

Mr Hillman said he tried to get the January trial date moved until after the end of his client's first loan period at Blackburn Rovers.

"I called (the court) on January 16 to find out the new hearing date," said Mr Hillman.

"I had the shock of being told that he had been found guilty and given 12 points.

"It (the trial) went ahead in court on January 3 when an extra six points were awarded and a ban that he did not even know about."

The court heard the six-month disqualification was lifted when it was realised the district judge had mistakenly believed the January 3 case related to a separate offence to the one from the December case.

James Hartson, for the appellant, said: "Mr Emnes, when he became aware of these issues, when he received the summons, did attempt to have this case listed in accordance with his playing career.

"It was intended to be fully contested in the lower court ... I appreciate he is not entitled to special treatment as a footballer."

Ruling on the appeal, Judge Geraint Walters said his two magistrate colleagues "have not had the impression that this appellant seems to think he is above the law".

Upholding the appeal, the judge said of Emnes claims that he did not receive the initial letters: "We believe him", adding that he had shown willingness to engage with the process once he received the summons.

He added the mix up over Emnes' disqualification was "quite remarkable".

An application for costs was also awarded.