David Beckham has been banned from driving for six months for using his mobile phone while driving after a member of the public photographed him using the device.
The former footballer, 43, had already pleaded guilty to using the device while driving his Bentley in “slowly moving” traffic on Great Portland Street, central London, on 21 November.
Beckham, wearing a dark grey suit and tie, was told by district judge Catherine Moore at Bromley magistrates court on Thursday that he would be temporarily disqualified, as she gave him six points to add to the six he already had for speeding matters.
Moore acknowledged the slow pace of the traffic but said there was “no excuse” under the law. “I am therefore required to disqualify you from driving,” she told him.
“Instead of looking straight forward, paying attention to the road, he appeared to be looking at his lap,” said prosecutor Matthew Spratt. “He [the witness] says that the defendant was operating a handheld device at knee level. At that moment a photograph was taken. The defendant was holding the mobile phone in the upright position.”
Gerrard Tyrrell, Beckham’s lawyer, said his client was travelling slowly and could recall neither the day in question nor the particular incident. “There is no excuse for what took place, but his view is as he cannot remember … he’s going to plead guilty, and that’s what he’s done.”
He added that Beckham had seen the photographs and his only observation was that the traffic appeared to be stationary.
Beckham finds driving a relaxing pastime, Tyrrell said. To deprive him of being able to take his children to school each day would be a punishment that the father of four would acknowledge.
The former England captain, who won 115 caps for his country, was fined £750 and ordered to pay £100 to prosecution costs, plus a £75 surcharge fee.
Beckham was criticised last year when he avoided prosecution for a speeding charge after he was caught driving at 59mph in a 40mph zone – because his lawyer Nick Freeman, also known as Mr Loophole, successfully argued that the speeding notice arrived a day late.
The punishment for driving while using a handheld mobile phone was doubled to six penalty points in March 2017, meaning that people with less than two years’ experience could be banned for doing so.
Last year the majority of cases were dealt with by fining the driver – 86% of whom were men – an average of £180.