A WEALTHY businessman accused of perverting the course of justice by using a 'laser jammer' device in his car to avoid speed enforcement traps has been found not guilty by a jury.

Eric Craggs claimed he was unaware that the device had been fitted to his Aston Martin following a garage service and told Teesside Crown Court that he had only requested equipment to alert him of speed cameras ahead.

His defence team had also attempted to argue that no crime had been committed and therefore he could not be guilty of the charge.

The court had heard how a Cleveland police officer, PC Lorraine Williams, had twice attempted to register the speed of Mr Craggs' vehicle on separate occasions when it was being driven in Central Avenue, Billingham.

However both times her speed gun failed to work and displayed an 'error' message. The officer became suspicious when a rectangle shaped object was seen attached to the front number plate of the 68-year-old's car and it was eventually seized by police.

Mr Craggs, of Junction Road, Norton Stockton, was asked about an invoice he received for the equipment fitted to his car.

He said in his evidence to the court: “It doesn't say "laser jamming system", it doesn't say "this is illegal”.

“I had no intention of that [a jamming device] being fitted whatsoever.”

The smartly dressed defendant, who made his fortune in personalised number plates, nodded in acknowledgement to members of the jury as they left court and thanked them for the verdict.

He was embraced by his tearful partner on leaving the dock, but declined an opportunity to comment to waiting reporters.

Addressing the issue of costs, Recorder William Lowe said he believed it would be wrong, having heard all of the evidence, to infer that Mr Craggs' had brought the prosecution on himself.

He said he was prepared to award Mr Craggs' his fixed costs from the case, although further enquiries needed to be made.

Had the jury returned a guilty verdict he would have been one of the first motorists in the country to be convicted after a trial for such an offence.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said it had accepted the decision of the court.