AN international businessman who put false number plates on his Jaguar to avoid being caught by speed cameras as he travelled around the UK has received a suspended jail sentence at Gloucester Crown Court.

Murray Biggs, 35, was European operations manager for a Dutch firm when he was caught after police patrol officers saw him ‘accelerating harshly’ on the A48 near Lydney and decided to follow him.

At that time his nine-year-old black Jaguar was displaying the number plate HK05 LLZ, said prosecutor Jack Borras. 

But later, when the officers found him and the car in a field, the Jaguar was bearing the registration FF51 MUZ.

Nearby in the field the police found the number plate they had originally seen on the car - as well as a third plate bearing the registration BX18 EUG, said Mr Borras.

Biggs, of Fairmoor Close, Pillowell pleaded guilty to committing a series of acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice on July 1, 2022 in Lydney by displaying false registration plates not relating to the vehicle for which they were meant.

He was sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of £1,200 and a surcharge of £187.

Judge Ian Lawrie KC told Biggs: “It is most alarming that despite having a very good job, skills and responsibilities, you chose to conduct a contrived exercise in deceit to avoid detection by speed cameras.

“When the police officers spotted your car you sped off, putting others at risk. You knew you were travelling with false number plates.

“I believe that because of the amount of travelling you were doing you had worked out that there were numerous risks of being caught by speed cameras which could mean losing you driving licence because of the points you might gain.

“We are here because you acted in a deceitful manner, trying to beat the system. I suspect this was not the first time you had used the false plates on your vehicle. You are lucky you’ve not been charged with anything else.

“This offence crosses the custody threshold. But because there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation, and I don’t think you will offend this way again, I have come to an alternative conclusion.”

Mr Borras had told the judge that when the police were following the Jaguar with their siren and blue lights on, it entered Aylburton and reduced speed to the legal limit of 30mph – but then overtook two vehicles that had slowed down on seeing the police car.

“The police officers were told that a pursuit had not been authorised so they pulled back and deactivated the blue lights and continued travelling towards Lydney,” Mr Borras said.

“A few minutes later the police spotted the Jaguar, which had come off the road and into a field where it had come to rest against a fence and a gate.

“The police noticed that the driver was still in the vehicle, which was now displaying a different number plate FF51MUZ. That is the registration of a vehicle that was insured and registered to Biggs.

“The police knew this was the same vehicle as the one they had earlier seen, however, because of its distinctive lights cluster. When additional police officers arrived on the scene they found another two number plates hidden close by - including the plate that had been spotted earlier and another displaying the registration BX18 EUG.”

Mr Borras said the registered owner of the number plate that was originally on the Jaguar was contacted and he told police that the plate had fallen off his vehicle or had been stolen in August 2020.

The farmer who owned the gate leading into the field where the Jaguar had come to rest stated that it had been substantially damaged in the collision.

During his police interview Biggs admitted that he had changed the number plates to avoid detection by speed cameras.

The court heard that Biggs was the European operations manager for a company based in Amsterdam but has since left that employment and is due to start a new position in Gloucester.

Catherine Spedding, defending, explained that Biggs still had the personalised number plate for the car that was on it when he bought it. She said that he found the other number plate – the one that was first seen by the police – at a roadside and had intended to hand it in, but did not do so.

Judge Lawrie interjected: “It’s easy to see why he’s doing it, as he is speeding through built up areas trying to avoid being captured and being traced by speed cameras. I question why he hasn’t been charged with dangerous driving.”

Ms Spedding added: “At the time Biggs was driving all over the place and had to drive regularly to Amsterdam due to his responsible job.

“He was constantly on call and if there was a problem anywhere he had to drive himself to that location whatever it was.

“Biggs states that he was returning home on the M4 when he realised that the original Severn Bridge was closed and he had to take the longer detour to get to Chepstow and ultimately Lydney.

“Biggs is an extremely hard worker and was under extreme pressure at the time of his offending last year. He has learnt his lesson and this is something he will never do again.”