The world's slowest speeding ticket
12 July 2007 | 01:01

A PENSIONER has spoken of his bewilderment after he received a speeding ticket for a car he says he never owned - nine years after the event.

The ticket, which has left police and the Royal Mail red-faced, took almost nine years to travel the 52 miles from Rayleigh, Essex, to the Derrick Thomas' home in Belstead Avenue, Ipswich.

Police sent the letter to Mr Thomas, 71, claiming he was clocked doing 60mph in a 40mph zone while driving a sporty Mercedes on the A12 in Essex way back in November 1998.

Incredibly the letter, which was post-marked as being sent on December 16, 1998, did not reach its destination until Monday.

When it eventually arrived Mr Thomas, who works as a toastmaster at weddings, banquets and other events, was left in disbelief as he has never owned a Mercedes.

The letter told him to pass his details on to police within 28 days or face a fine of up to £1,000 and three penalty points.

Despite not doing so within the time period, Essex Police failed to follow-up the initial letter and no further action was taken.

A spokesman for the force yesterday said the issue was unlikely to be pursued as the matter was so old that all the details, bar the photo taken by the speed camera, had been destroyed.

The spokesman said the force was not responsible for the prompt delivery of mail but was unable to explain why the matter had not been followed up.

He said: “The records have all been destroyed because there is a statutory time limit on taking proceedings. We have managed to trawl into the archive and find a picture of the Mercedes vehicle taken by the camera but that is the only record that now exists.”

A spokesman for Royal Mail said the lengthy delay was “highly unlikely” to have been the service's fault.

He said: “Normally if this kind of thing happens it's a case of the letter being re-introduced to the system. We wouldn't hold on to anything for nine years.”

Mr Thomas said he could not figure out what happened. He said: “I thought it was a joke. My heart skipped a beat because I do not speed. It's ludicrous really - it is more than nine years since the offence. I really don't know what is going on here.”

Mr Thomas said the ticket he has been sent was in relation to a red S-registration Mercedes C250 Sport which was clocked travelling along the A12.

However, Mr Thomas said he had exclusively driven BMW cars since 1989. “I can't remember what I was doing last night let alone in 1998,” he added.