Robin Miller: Guy Martin’s Great Escape…

| | TT and Roads
Picture: Impact Images

Describing Guy Martin as lacking in common sense would not surprise those who have seen his record breaking exploits on TV. They might, however, be shocked at the suggestion that here was a man easily taken in.

But these were conditions put forward by two psychiatrists in a successful defence of the 38-year-old road former racing star accused at Lincoln Crown Court of possessing a fake Irish licence and using it to alter his genuine UK licence allowing him to drive HGVs – ‘a document so closely resembling an Irish driving as to be calculated to deceive’.

This, and an accusation of making a false statement, both denied by Martin, were dramatically dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service following medical evidence. Judge Simon Hirst said: ”The prosecution accept that it is conceivable that Mr Martin did think this was a genuine licence.On the Crown offering no evidence I therefore enter not guilty verdicts in respect of both matters.”

Michael Cranmer-Brown for the CPS said: ”There have been two psychiatrists who have seen Mr Martin. The first, instructed by the defence and agreed by the prosecution, said that he does not always apply what others may refer to as common sense. He has a vulnerability to take what people say at face value.” He added that his autism also made him ‘vulnerable enough for others to see him as an easy target. It may well be that he was taken in by somebody, We therefore accept that he didn’t possess that document with intent to deceive’.”

Explaining the background, Cranmer-Brown said the attention of the DVLA in the UK was alerted when both Martin’s UK licence and what purported to be an Eire licence were submitted on his behalf. No record of a Guy Martin existed with the Eire equivalent of the DVLA and the driving licence number related to a different person.

Martin did not appear at the hearing which took place only a matter of days after his take off of Steve McQueen in a re-run of the famous fence jumping scene in “The Great Escape” on Channel Four. It is the latest in an amazingly successful post-racing career in which he has become a TV star by breaking speed records on almost every wheeled vehicle known to man from a soapbox to Wall of Death and written a whole series of best selling books.

Racing afficianados are often dismissive of a successful road racing career by sneering, “What’s he ever won then, not a TT…”

Martin has probably earned more money than any British rider ever. And he is still known as a bike racer who risked his neck at the TT and starred in Closer to the Edge. Now seen as new version of Fred Dibnah, his quirky personality, penchant for a ‘brew’ and messing about with lorries have brought him a huge fan base. Although he is never comfortable in public something brought on by Asperger’s syndrome.

The Great Escape was Hollywood’s version of a 1944 breakout from Stalag Luft 3, a prisoner of war camp in Poland. It was based on a true story of an amazingly-constructed escape plan via tunnels. No motorbikes but tunnels aren’t very exciting and McQueen, a biking nut once representing America in the ISDT, was attracted by the idea of jumping to freedom. Unfortunately, the insurers wouldn’t let him take the risk so his old mate, stunt rider Bud Ekins, was brought in. Back in real life, 76 prisoners attempted the breakout but only three made it to freedom. Most of the rest were shot.

Credit to Martin. In his movie he did a rather better job of leaping the fence than Ekins but but his Triumph Scrambler 1200 was infinitely better than Ekins’ TR6 Trophy which, of course, didn’t exist in 1944 and certainly not in a Nazi prisoner of war camp. But it was a great movie directed by John Sturgess who also directed McQueen in Bullitt.

And for Triumph it was great publicity as was the documentary on McQueen which was shown a week later on Sky Arts. In fact, a good period for owner John Bloor as sales ticked up 12% to £1.7bn producing profits of £192.4m. The Sunday Times Rich List now has the publicity shy ex-plasterer Mr Bloor worth £1.9bn, well deserved for the man who rescued Triumph from bankruptcy.