An Army bomb disposal hero who was caught speeding at 143mph escaped a driving ban after the judge decided it was ”not in the public interest” to ruin his career.
Kameron Edmonson, 20, was clocked at almost THREE times the 50mph speed limit in his sporty Ford Focus ST.
He told police he accelerated away because he believed a black Subaru Impreza was pursuing him on the M40 in Warwickshire.
But the vehicle was actually an unmarked police car and he was pulled over and arrested.
Edmonson, who has served in Iraq and is due to serve in Afghanistan in July, pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving but admitted speeding at Warwick Crown Court.
Judge Marten Cotes refused to impose a 56-day driving ban handed out in similar cases, saying it was ”in the public interest” to let him keep his licence so he can continue his Army training.
He told him: ”I don’t want to send out the message that soldiers can speed, but you’re being trained to do a dangerous job that very few want to do.
”Your role is vital for the security of this country and it’s important that people who chose to do that are allowed to continue.”
Instead of a ban, Edmonson had six points added to his licence and he was fined £300.
He was also ordered to pay £80 costs and a £15 surcharge for the offence last July.
The court heard how Edmonson, a Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer, served in Iraq helping bomb disposal units as part of his training last year.
He was due to fly to Afghanistan in July to join a specialist unit clearing the thousands of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) which litter the roadsides.
Speaking outside court, a smiling Edmonson, who is originally from Blackburn, Lancs., said: ”I’m relieved it’s over. Now I can get back to work.”
But road safety campaigners were furious by the judge’s decision.
Ellen Booth, campaigns officer for road safety charity Brake, said: ”His speeding showed an absolute disregard for the law and the ruling sets a very bad example for soldiers.
”The ruling effectively says to drivers that within certain circumstances they can avoid the consequences of their actions.”
Paul English, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Blackburn, said Edmonson’s actions were ”as lethal as a speeding bullet”.
He said: ”The rule of law should be equal to all, full stop. There should be no exceptions. It doesn’t matter if he’s a soldier, if you break the law, you should suffer the consequences. This sets a very bad example.”
But Justice Secretary Jack Straw backed the ruling, saying he made the right decision.
He said: ”It seems to me that the judge has shown appropriate mercy for someone risking his life for the rest of us.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said: ”We would not comment on a decision made by a judge, it would be inappropriate.”