back to article Ton-up speed merchant blames dyslexia

A 40-year-old speed merchant clocked doing 103mph in a 60mph zone blamed dyslexia for his extravagant speed. A concerned driver called in cops after spotting Matthew Cook "weaving in and out of traffic as he sped along the A27 between Falmer and Hollingbury in East Sussex", Brighton's The Argus reports. Witnesses said …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Wanna Bet?

    Someone's being playing a little too much Burnout Paradise.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Was it a stun run or...

      a road rage :D

  2. davefb

    wierd defence..

    Surely if he can't understand the speedometer, then he should decide never to drive and 'ban' himself?

  3. Anonymous John

    Almost as funny as this excuse.

    "Mr Whatley said he thought the blue lights and siren of the police car meant the officers were giving him an escort home."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Believe it or not...

      Believe it or not: The police had to adopt "POLICE STOP" lights, because several people tried it on with "I didn't know they wanted me to stop" type arguments.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "A concerned driver called in cops"

    We salute you brave sir. If you hadn't called the cops they might have wasted their time on some minor petty criminal, like a rapist or a wife beater. But thanks to your brave armchair police work they brought a speeding driver to justice. All heil road safety.

    Although in this case the driver was a cock. I'm glad his flimsy excuse failed to set a precedent for anyone with an armchair mental diagnosis to do whatever the hell they like.

    1. Rob Crawford

      You sir are an arse

      Yeah Mr Anon,

      it would be trivial until somebody was killed by the afore mentioned cock and then you would have been whinging about where all the traffic cops where.

      A car like a [more obvious item here] is a lethal weapon in the hands of an arsehole.

      Personally I think he got off too lightly (terminal condition or not)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I'm glad he was caught

      But a truer statement cannot be had. We have too many armchair plods around us that call in the smallest thing. I had someone once call me in because - wait for it - I had parked facing the wrong way on a road. Legal parking space; paid the parking meter; car taxed and all legal - but parked facing the traffic. Got slapped with a fairly chunky fine.

      Never mind the fact that I was parked there was because my wife was in labor, and it was the only parking anywhere near the maternity entrance of the hospital due to renovations and ambulances filling up the front courtyard.

      And AC, just for the record.. them cops don't care about those silly crimes anyway unless there is political capital involved. They're too busy doing Real Police Work, such as abusing photographers and throwing kids down stairs...

    3. Stubar

      Re - "A concerned driver called in cops"


      What about the death and injuries caused by this idiot?

      Look up the differences between the traffic police and their colleagues who deal with the "minor" crimes you've named.

      When you're flipping burgers are you expected to clean the toilets at the same time?

      And you posted as AC because you know you're a twat!

    4. Velv

      You're an Idiot

      OK, so I know some of it is hype, but have you never watched any of these TV Cop Reality things. In over 50% of the cases where they stop a driver commiting a traffic offence, they go on to find something else more serious, like drug running, stolen property, fake identity documents and forged credit cards.

      I'm no lover of the traffic police, but your cynicism of their worth is deeply misguided.

      No wonder you're staying anonymous - COWARD!

      1. Annihilator Silver badge


        "OK, so I know some of it is hype, but have you never watched any of these TV Cop Reality things. In over 50% of the cases where they stop a driver commiting a traffic offence, they go on to find something else more serious, like drug running, stolen property, fake identity documents and forged credit cards."

        I agree with the spirit of your post, deeming Mr AC an idiot, but do you think that it's not just "hype" and that in the "TV Cop Reality things", they cut out the really boring collars where nothing happens? I've always noticed that things I see on the news are 99% related to things that have just happened in the world.

      2. Anonymous Coward


        >>OK, so I know some of it is hype, but have you never watched any of these TV Cop Reality things. In over 50% of the cases where they stop a driver commiting a traffic offence, they go on to find something else more serious, like drug running, stolen property, fake identity documents and forged credit cards.<<

        What part of "OK, so I know some of it is hype" did you miss? Newsflash: it's a tv show; they're only reporting the cases they choose to show.

        While the article is a significant example of how traffic regulation is important in our cities; I think you're a bit off the mark when you say

        >>I'm no lover of the traffic police, but your cynicism of their worth is deeply misguided.

        -> They break speed laws without their legally-mandated siren and lights on, getting no penalty for breaking the law (the law specifically states that they may break the speed limit in the course of their duty using their lights and siren).

        -> They have been caught lying repeatedly about the benefit of speed cameras (most recent time this month).

        -> They also have been caught knowingly making use of faulty speed trap equipment; and expecting the driver to be held to the results.

        So let me get this straight: You have no issue with traffic corps lying through their teeth; but someone being cynical about their value to society is "deeply misguided"? What planet are you from?

        AC because I suspect you wear a badge in your spare time buddy.

    5. caffeine addict

      Clip clop, clip clop...

      Don't you think there's a slight difference between "breaking the speed limit" and "doing 103 in a 60 zone, weaving in and out of traffic"?

      I speed. I think speed cameras are hateful. I'd have phoned the police about this dickhead.

      Now go annoy those clip clopping goats...

    6. JimC

      The trouble is

      that innocent motorists kill a damn sight more people every year than murderers and rapists do...

    7. Anonymous Coward

      In the US Pacific NW . . . .

      ratting people out is a full-time job for the folks here.

      I believe Darwin should decide who lives and dies . . . . BAN SEATBELTS!

  5. Richard Bragg

    I'm (mildy) dyslexic but

    I can't see how you can get speed readings that badly out and if you are that bad then you really shouldn't be driving.

    1. Anonymous John

      Re I'm (mildy) dyslexic but

      If you can spell "dyslexic", you don't need to worry about it.

  6. Oliver Mayes

    How did he have a license?

    I thought it was a requirement of the driving test these days that you had to be able to read road signs and understand all of the informational displays of your car. If he's dyslexic to such a degree that he can't read numbers then how did he have a license?

    Plus, even if he's telling the truth shirley the fact that everything was flying past him in a blur should have been an indication that he was going too fast.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      reading numbers

      I have a digital speedo, it's a bloody nuisance, hard to read in bright sunlight and requires much more cognitive effort than an analogue dial. Which is why digital speedo are not that common. So dyslexia seems unconvincing. And mistaking 100mph for 60? pull the other one.

  7. Raspy32

    Isn't it called Dyscalculia?

    Aside from his defence being entirely composed of bullshit, or was his weaving and gesticulating also blamed upon his inability to properly process text? Sounds like the guy was caught driving like a complete tool.

    Given his age he has probably held a licence for 20 years or so - surely by now he would have realised the scope of his dyslexia problem (if it exists) and found a way to counteract it, such as different coloured marks on the speedometer for example. Thing is, he can't even claim he couldn't read the road sign as I am assuming being a 60 limit it was indicated by the national speed limit sign, which has neither text or numbers on it.

    And if he doesn't know what the national speed limit is, he shouldn't be anywhere near the driving seat of a car.

    1. joylessdave

      RE: dyscalcula

      dyscalcula effects numbers specifically i.e. you can have dyscalcula without being dyslexic

      dyslexia effects all text including numbers.

      1. No, I will not fix your computer


        Dyslexia generally is as a result of the inability to relate a string of letters to a "thing", words such as "Cat" are generally OK because you can associate a picture in your mind with the "shape" of the word, so nouns are usually OK, but the words that join it all together are harder to "picture".

        Dyscalcula however is usually based on two things, firstly the shape of numbers mean nothing and you have to learn how to make the shape represent a number (3= three points, 4 = four points etc.), secondly estimation an magnitudes mean nothing, and this is far more esoteric and less dyslexic.

        This guy is lying because;

        1. The speedo will have a pointer, a visual representation of speed

        2. He was travelling faster than everybody else (this is a bad thing to do, never be the fastest thing on the road if you want to keep your licence)

  8. neb

    didn't realise...

    ...driving like a cunt was a terminal disease

    oh, now i get it!

    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      I thought it was

      Drive like a c**t for long enough, it will end up terminal. Not necessarily for you though, so I suppose that's an upside...

  9. Sir Runcible Spoon


    If this guy is terminally ill then a driving ban isn't going to stop him.

    Sounds like he wants to take a few people with him.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Teminal Illness = Dont give a flying @#*&

    If he is terminally ill I doubt he will care; I know if the quacks ever admit my illness is terminal and give me an estimated check-out date I wont be bothering much with the speed limit.

    Now where is my appointment card, I know the quack has called me in for Wednesday, but what time was it???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      In that case... too are an arse. If don't care about the violence you're doing to others just because you think you're about to die, you're a bully in my book. We're all going to die so don't feel so bloody special about it. Contain your pain, or fsck off to some desert island where you can hurt noone, bullyboy.

  11. Lionel Baden


    this sort of asshole is the reason people who actually have a issue sound like a bunch of "ohh ill say ive got that disability " to get out of something !!!!

    Then they use it for any excuse ....

    He got caught driving like a knob, i dont per say have an issue with speeding but if hes having to swerve in and out of traffic then he's driving like a dick .....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    3 year ban for a terminally ill driver?

  13. PTR


    If he stated he can't read the speedo, then surely he is incapable of driving safely, and should be banned from driving for life?

    1. joylessdave

      RE: admission

      colour blind people cann't see red and green does this mean they cann't drive

      if you know where on the dial the speeds are you don't need to be able to read them to know your speed.

      the eye test with driving is to test your ability to see obsticals and hazards and has nothing to do with your ability to read.

      1. Rob

        Easy on the generalisation...

        ... Colour-blindness comes in varying degrees like Dyslexia does, red and green aren't always the offending colours.

      2. TheRobster


        "colour blind people cann't see red and green does this mean they cann't drive"

        No, it doesn't, but a colour blind person who did not know what traffic lights were for and could not work out the difference would / should not be allowed to drive.

        Just like dyslexic people who nevertheless can read and understand what their speedo readout is telling them, regardless of if they actually understand the symbols, is able to drive, someone who can't tell the difference between 60mph and 103mph, regardless of their alleged disability, is not.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Colour Blind?

        "colour blind people cann't see red and green does this mean they cann't drive"

        The only time red/green colour blindness (the most common sort) would be an issue would be with traffic lights, but since the lights are laid out in a standard pattern you don't really *need* to know what colour they are. A driver with red/green colour blindness would simply train themselves to know that stop was the top one and go the bottom one, and that the arrows meant go too.

        As for the terminal illness, that depends what it is. A friend of mine has been "terminally ill" for seven years now. The quacks still can't tell him how long he's got, just that it will kill him eventually. They are managing to control the illness, but they can't guarantee it will last forever. In some cases of "terminal illness" a better term might be "incurable potentially fatal illness". It might clarify things in cases like this. I know it's just a matter of how you read it, but "terminally ill" would mean "only got X to live" to most people, whereas "incurably ill" would mean something very different.

        Were he likely to cop his clogs any time soon I would have thought the quacks would have asked the perp to surrender his licence.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      since when has an ability to read the speedo had *ANYTHING* to do with driving safely?

      it's simple for fuck's sake: you drive at a speed that is appropriate for the prevailing conditions. this is not the same as sticking within the legal limit and only paying attention to what the speedo says.

      and yes, this guy who was nicked sounds like an arsehole. going over the speed limit was the least of his crimes. note that his dangerous driving was caught by traffic cops, not a speed camera.

  14. TeeCee Gold badge


    Yup, "RPM" / "MPH", easy mistake to make.

    Presumably he thought "x100" was the brand name of the instrument.......

  15. Andrew Barr

    playing snap!

    Surely he would just match the numbers on the side of the road to the numbers on his speedo?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Well, thinking about it for a second, this road is actually a 70 MPH stretch, which means there aren't any numbers on the signs (they look like

      I wonder if the top RHS of the black line corresponds to 100 MPH on his speedo, he was literally playing snap..

  16. Anonymous Coward

    missing point here...

    if he is terminally ill, does he really give a hoot?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: the guy being terminally ill

    (1) we are all terminally ill to some degree. I don't know anyone who has lived forever. It doesn't mean we want it to end any sooner than it will.

    (2) Just because he is going to die at some non-disclosed time it doesn't mean he actually does want to take people out with him.

    (3) likewise the driving like a cock. I know many people who drive like cocks who don't actually want to kill anyone.

    (4) Terminally ill is just a mitigating factor for sentencing. Means he gets a 3 year ban rather than a 5 year ban and a spell in prison.

    (5) A ban allows stronger sanctions if he drives again - much easier to prove than dangerous driving etc. If he persists in driving whilst banned they will put him in prison.

    (6) Being banned means you can't drive in accordance with your license, and therefore means you can't get insurance. So if stopped the filth will also crush his car. Eventually he would run out of cars to drive.

    It all seems perfectly fine to me:

    -A guy was driving like a cock and got caught for it.

    -In court his barrister used every possible means to mitigate the sentence (as they are legally and morally obliged to do) which included mentioning the dyslexia and terminal illness.

    -The judge gave a reasonable punishment.

    Nothing more to see here.

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge


      To quote Tom Good : "Tick - VG."

      Right up until the barrister's "and morally obliged" part. Everything else, I was with you.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    what a masterpiece of understatement

  19. Anonymous Coward


    So he thought he was doing 310?! I wouldn't have stopped if I thought I was doing that- I'd be waiting for the guinness book of records to turn up.

    Or if he thought he was doing 031 in a 60, that'd explain why he thought everyone else was going slowly. And, presumably, that his car was buggered as the needle was in totally the wrong place.

    1. Gav

      It's all relative, isn't it?

      Not to mention the problem with the entire landscape, what with it rushing by him at a speed clearly in excess to the speed he was travelling.

      Why, he must have thought reality itself was irredeemably broken!

  20. David Cantrell


    The road in question is a dual carriageway with a 70 limit, not 60.

    1. Lord Raa

      Dual Carriageway

      Not all dual carriageways have a speed limit of 70MPH.

  21. heyrick Silver badge

    As a (mild) sufferer of dyscalculia...

    ...I would like to point out that I need a calculator to add up shopping, probably won't ever cope with long division, and have _NEVER_ had a problem with speedometers. Even if you are way worse than me and really cannot make sense of the numbers, that doesn't account for the fancy graphic or swing-needle that indicates how fast you're going. Anything over centre-point top is pretty fast on most of the car's I've seen. Or the fact that if you're zooming past everybody else you might just possibly be going too bloody quickly.

    Oh, and to be pedantic: dyslexia != dyscalculia.

  22. blackworx

    Seems to me...

    ...this guy should have gotten some of the commenters from the recent speed camera articles to do his defence. Something along the lines of it being the limit that was wrong and not the driver since he was clearly skilled and safe enough to be driving on that particular road at that particular speed, as evidenced by the fact he isn't dead yet m'lud.

  23. Campbell


    But aren't we all, technically, terminally ill? There's no cure for death is there?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If he'd just overtaken instead of undertaken, hence no 'weaving', would that just have been 'speeding' rather than 'driving like a cock'?

    Wonder if the 'helpful witnesses' were the ones sat in the overtaking lane, causing him to weave...

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Evil Auditor Silver badge


    Since when is dyslexia a terminal illness?

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Killing machines

    Knowing this piece of road well, he was definitely being a nob end. It's actually national speed limit (70mph) but it's heading downhill at some gradient with a big curve in the road as it meets two junctions (Brighton on-slip, Falmer off-slip), three if you include the handbrake turn into Sussex Uni.

    At that speed doing what he did, he was driving a 103mph killing machine and deserved to get caught.

  28. Richard Porter


    "it's simple for fuck's sake: you drive at a speed that is appropriate for the prevailing conditions. this is not the same as sticking within the legal limit and only paying attention to what the speedo says."

    Absolutely, but the trouble is that the government is totally obsessed with the numerical value of your speed, regardless of the prevailing conditions.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    @AC 12:34 - 'weaving'?

    So the fact that there is some slower traffic on the road gives you the right to travel -at least- 33mph over the speed limit (depending whether in fact it was 60 or 70 on that stretch) and undertake other cars? Wow....let me know where you drive regularly and what car you're in and I'll have the local plod look out for you.

    We all get frustrated from time to time by somebody hogging the outside lane but it doesn't excuse driving like a complete tosspot.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 09:14 - 'weaving'?

    Nope doesn't excuse his behaviour.

    But I'd like plod to have asked the ever-helpful witnesses what they were doing in the overtaking lane at the time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "But I'd like plod to have asked the ever-helpful witnesses what they were doing in the overtaking lane at the time."

      It's not actually a strict liability offence. The best you could probably manage would be "driving without consideration for other road users" but even that would be difficult to prove if they were travelling at the speed limit. Why should you need to consider the need of other road users to overtake if they could not overtake without breaking the speed limit.

      Also you have to consider that plod really must deal with the more serious offence and make the roads safe. Somebody is breaking the speed limit by a huge amount (a strict liability offence) and almost certainly driving dangerously, somebody else is hogging the right hand lane. Which driver would you rather plod stopped?

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Wating to use this excuse . . . .

    Blame the car builder . . . .it LET me set cruise control at 103!

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