‘Wake-up call’ as Nick Knowles banned from driving for speeding and using phone

The TV presenter was told by magistrates in Cheltenham that he cannot get behind the wheel for six months.

Press Association
Last updated: 12 June 2019 - 2.20pm

DIY SOS host Nick Knowles has described being banned from driving for six months for using his mobile phone and speeding as a “wake-up call”.

The presenter and former I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! contestant was disqualified and fined almost £1,500 at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court.

A police mobile speed camera caught the 56-year-old driving his Range Rover at 85mph on the A417 Brockworth Bypass, a dual carriageway off the M5, on January 28.

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Knowles was seen holding his mobile phone at the time but insisted this was due to a “dodgy lead” because his car had a working hands-free kit.

He pleaded guilty to both offences in May and appeared before magistrates for sentencing on Wednesday morning.

After presiding justice Andrew Hill issued the disqualification order, Knowles, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, joked: “I can drive home, right?”

Mr Hill replied: “No.”

Knowles told him: “I’m joking.”

Magistrates had considered whether imposing the driving ban would cause Knowles “exceptional hardship” but concluded that it would not.

He already had six points on his licence, with the mobile phone use adding a further six points.

Knowles, who represented himself in court, said: “I was travelling faster than I should have done.

“I actually have a hands-free kit and was using my hands-free kit. My phone had a dodgy lead and I was holding it.

“I do 25,000 miles a year and, at various other times, I have looked at my phone.

“I had fallen into the habit of looking at texts. I now put my phone in the boot of my car.”

Knowles said his work involved him driving across the country, including to visit various charities.

He also uses his car to collect his four-and-a-half-year-old son from school.

Nick Knowles court case
Nick Knowles arrives at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court for sentencing (Ben Birchall/PA)

As magistrates retired to consider his case, Martin Surl, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, came into court.

Mr Surl told Knowles: “I just called by to say thank you for doing the responsible thing.”

Knowles replied that driving while using a phone could be “highly dangerous”, adding that he often worked with the police.

Nick Knowles speaks to media outside Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court (Ben Birchall/PA)
Nick Knowles speaks to media outside Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court (Ben Birchall/PA)

“Given all that background, it would be pompous and irresponsible of me to try and get off,” he told Mr Surl.

“I thought if I support the police, I can’t go and hire myself a lawyer to get me off – it is utterly preposterous.

“I look in cars now and I had no idea how many people are using a phone while driving.

“When it beeps and work pressure is on, it is very tempting to look at it. I just stick it in a bag in the boot now.”

Prosecuting, Nadina Farley-Turner told the court that Knowles was caught by the police camera at 10.55am on January 28.

Nick Knowles
Nick Knowles said after he was banned from driving that he will now keep his mobile in the boot of his car (Ben Birchall/PA)

As his Range Rover approached the camera, the operator could see he had “his left hand held up to his face”.

“The officer could clearly see that he was using his mobile phone,” Mrs Farley-Turner said.

“He continued to do so until he was 20 metres from the enforcement van, when it was put down.”

Mr Hill fined Knowles £666 for speeding and £666 for using his phone, with a victim surcharge of £66.

He also ordered him to pay prosecution costs of £85. Knowles has 28 days to pay the total amount of £1,483.

Mr Hill told him: “We take into account that you have shown remorse.

“We will disqualify you from driving today and you will be disqualified from driving for six months.”

He warned Knowles that if he drives while banned he will face further proceedings, which could result in a prison sentence.

Speaking outside court, Knowles described the incident as a “wake-up call”.

“The six-month ban was appropriate because to give anything else would be giving me special privilege,” he said.

He hoped his case would make other people change their behaviour while driving too.

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