A MAN who tried to record the questions during his driving theory test at the Coventry test centre, in the hope they would help him pass the next time, has been fined.
Danny Smith pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to possessing articles for use in fraud after he had been caught at the centre with a mobile phone and a Bluetooth earpiece, which was found in his pants.
Smith (32) of Whitehall Road, Leeds, was fined £1,000 and was ordered to pay £200 costs – as well as the soon-to-be-scrapped £900 criminal courts charge.
Prosecutor Sarah Allen said Smith had booked to take his light goods vehicle driving theory test at the DVLA test centre in Coventry.
He had opted to have a ‘voiceover’ of the questions with the aid of headphones, which is available for people with reading difficulties.
So when he turned up to sit the test on September 15 he was required to sign to say he was not taking any electronic items into the test booth.
“But while the defendant was taking the test he removed the headphones and was seen to have something in his ear which appeared to be a Bluetooth device.
“He was asked to come out of the booth and spoken to and asked to hand over the device, but he denied he had anything with him of that nature,” said Miss Allen.
The police were informed, and when Smith was searched after being arrested, officers found a Bluetooth earpiece in his underpants and a mobile phone strapped to his thigh.
Miss Allen said that in November last year Smith had taken the theory test at the test centre in Leeds, where staff had been suspicious of his activity in the booth, although no charge had resulted from that.
She added that Smith’s previous convictions included burglaries and an offence of driving while disqualified.
Justin Jarmola, defending, said: “This was not an attempt to cheat in the theory test, but someone attempting to utilise it later at home for revision purposes.”
He explained that Smith cannot read, and would therefore find it difficult studying for the test in the normal way, so wanted to record the questions so he could go through them later in his own time.
Miss Allen confirmed that there was no evidence Smith was receiving an incoming phone call at the time.
And Recorder Adrian Redgrave QC commented: “It’s akin to getting hold of a copy of exam papers.
“But this was not an offence where he intended to profit by disseminating test papers.
“What he did was to equip himself with the questions so he could prepare himself the more fully the next time.”
Mr Jarmola said although it was cheating, it was ‘at the lower end of the scale,’ and suggested that, after being subject to an electronic tag since September, Smith could be dealt with by a fine.
He added that although the father-of-eight’s disposable income was not great, he had £800 to £1,200 in savings and could borrow close to that again from members of his family.
Fining Smith, Recorder Redgrave told him: “You have in part already served what would have been part of a prison sentence by being electronically tagged.
“That and your plea of guilty make it proper that this be dealt with by way of a fine.”