A Premier League striker’s convictions for driving without insurance and a valid licence have been overturned after it emerged he had been wrongly prosecuted in a court case the footballer knew nothing about.
The Metropolitan Police brought a criminal case against French international Odsonne Edouard when his Audi RS Q8 was stopped and seized near to the Blackwall tunnel. The Crystal Palace star, who scored twice in Sunday’s clash with Wolves, was prosecuted and convicted in May in a behind-closed-doors single justice procedure court in Bromley, with a magistrate handing the 25-year-old eight points on his licence, a £660 fine, and £364 in costs and fees.
The convictions and penalties have been cancelled after an intervention by lawyers for Edouard, pointing out the footballer had a valid licence and up-to-date insurance.
Police made basic blunders on the paperwork, and a lawyer for Edouard said that there were “no grounds” for the criminal case.
His lawyer said: “We can’t explain why police chose to bring a prosecution. These errors meant matters could not be cleared up without recourse to court proceedings.”
Documents seen by the Standard show the striker had tried to convince police at the roadside that they were making an error. He showed a sergeant a picture on his phone of his French driving licence. The police officer also noticed Edouard’s limited grasp of English and included in his statement that when cautioned by police, the player replied: “I don’t understand.”
The player, whose name was spelled wrongly as “Eduoard” through police statements and court documents, was prosecuted in his absence after papers were sent to an east London apartment.
The single justice system dealt with large numbers of driving prosecutions, where there are notoriously low numbers of pleas entered. Cases that were once dealt with in open court with a prosecutor to review the file are now dealt with behind-closed-doors and with a magistrate and legal adviser sitting alone.
SJP critics have raised fears that evidence is not inspected thoroughly, while efforts are not made to ensure the defendant knows they are being prosecuted. Police said Edouard had been pulled over because of suspected past speeding offences. But it is understood no fines have been issued to the player.
Among the documents seen by the Standard is a police statement that Edouard had been written to by first class post “at an address at which the issuing authority reasonably believes that the defendant will receive the document(s).”