A police radio operator was caught doing almost 30mph over the speed limit as she raced to an emergency meeting, a court heard.

Leiagh Ball, 23, was snapped by a speed camera driving at 78mph on the A34 at the Botley interchange, a 50mph zone, on April 9, 2021.

The Thames Valley Police staff member was said to have been on her way to an urgent meeting to discuss ‘significant abuse’ she’d received after picking up an emergency call.

Last November, Ball, of Mayfield Avenue, Grove, pleaded guilty via the single justice procedure, where a magistrate deals with lower-level cases out of court, to speeding and was given six points and fined £461.

Oxford Crown Court heard that the impact of those six penalty points had been significant. As a newly-qualified driver who passed her test within two years of receiving the points, her driving licence had automatically been revoked.

Her barrister, Laura Tilt, said that it could take 12 months for Ball to get her provisional licence and take her theory and practical driving tests so she could obtain a full licence again.

Ms Tilt said her client had only been a police radio operator for around four or five months when she was asked to ‘sub in’ for an emergency call handler taking 999 calls.

“She was completing that role and in doing so at this particular time she had taken a call in which she had received some significant abuse,” the barrister said.

“She was then told by management she had to go into an emergency meeting in respect of this call and was going to this meeting when she was caught speeding on this particular day.”

The bench – comprised of a circuit judge and two magistrates - was asked to replace the six penalty points with a short driving disqualification, meaning that she would be able to regain her licence without having to pass further tests.

Ms Tilt said the fact Ball’s work was ‘in the public interest’ should be taken into account. She did shift work and would struggle to get to the police station by public transport. Ball also helped look after her grandmother.

Overturning the earlier sentence and replacing the six points with a 30 day roads ban, Judge Nigel Daly said: “You were a fairly recent driver and you were going at 78mph in a 50mph limit.

The imposition by the magistrates of the six points was quite just and reasonable. The effect it’s had upon you means that in reality you will be losing your licence for a period of something like a year.

“In your particular circumstances, bearing in mind your responsibilities not only to your work but also to your family and the difficulties this will create for you we think that would be disproportionate.

“We are not saying that six points for this sort of speed in those circumstances is wrong. Far from it. But the magistrates would have discretion and we have discretion. We consider that we are prepared to exercise that discretion by disqualifying you from driving.

“I want to make it quite clear that we are not setting any sort of precedent and this is particular to your circumstances. The circumstances surround what was going on at the time and your particular personal circumstances.”