Sunday, September 10, 2006

Motorist jailed for blowing up speed camera

LONDON (Reuters) - A British motorist who blew up a road safety camera which had caught him speeding was jailed for four months Wednesday, Greater Manchester Police said.

Craig Moore, 28, took his revenge on the camera, which had flashed him in the Hyde area of Manchester, in August 2005.

Although the camera itself was badly damaged, images of him speeding and returning to destroy the evidence were stored in recording equipment in its unscathed base.

More than 4,000 speed cameras are located across Britain, generating much cash and controversy. While supporters regard them as a useful tool to reduce accidents, critics see them as little more than a money-making opportunity.

While Moore's attack on a camera was not Britain's first, it may rate as the most extreme. Other aggrieved drivers have previously used axes or paint.

"Speed camera vandalism is reaching epidemic proportions, and the only solution is to scrap cameras," said Paul Smith, founder of Safe Speed campaign group which lobbies against the distinctive bright yellow devices.

"Apart from their total failure to deliver improved road safety, they push good people outside of the law every day of the week."

But the AA motoring organization said the system of speed camera enforcement in Britain was a lot fairer than other European countries where the cameras are often disguised or hidden.

"Matched against those practices, and the fact that each UK speed camera is painted yellow and sited where there is a proven road safety risk, the vast majority of prosecutions are a fair cop and cameras are supported by around 70 per cent of the population," said Paul Watters, head of roads and transport policy for The AA Motoring Trust.