Young driver illegally used flashing blue lights ‘for protection’
AYOUNG driver who bought blue flashing lights from the internet and drove around with them on his car has been hauled into court.
Andrew Norris, who said he commutes to Cheadle every day for work, claimed he needed the lights as ‘protection’ after he was attacked in 2017.
But he was arrested and prosecuted for the unusual offence of using ‘a warning beacon’ illegally on a car. A more serious charge of impersonating a police officer was dropped.
The bizarre incident unfolded when a woman saw a Vauxhall Insignia approaching from behind her with blue flashing lights on Cow Lane in Sale at around 10.30pm on June 17 last year, a court was told.
She immediately pulled over to allow it to pass, but when it pulled alongside her she saw the car was full of ‘non-uniformed’ men.
The witness then contacted police to report it as she thought it was ‘strange,’ prosecutors said.
Norris was then traced to his home in Chorley by the registration plate on the Vauxhall.
He initially told officers he had a set of blue lights, but claimed he had not yet used them that evening.
Norris, 22, who represented himself at the hearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court, said he bought them for ‘protection’ after being violently attacked in 2017.
But the law states only those vehicles classed as emergency vehicles can use blue flashing lights and police, ambulance or fire service vehicles can use sirens.
In what he admitted was a ‘stupid mistake,’ Norris told the court he bought the lights, which are charged in the cigarette lighter of the car and attached to the windscreen with a sucker, from the internet as a way of feeling safer.
He said: “I have never been in trouble before. It was just a stupid mistake.
“I was attacked in 2017 and ever since then I have struggled if someone pulls up behind me or slows down in front of me. “And I just panicked. “Because they (those behind the alleged previous attack) got away with it I thought it might happen again and made the stupid mistake of purchasing these lights.”
However District Judge Sam Goozee said: “Why on earth did you feel you needed to engage these lights when there were other people in the vehicle with you?”
Norris, of Chorley, pleaded guilty to an unusual charge of ‘using a vehicle where warning beacons were being used in a prohibited manner’ and a second offence of driving without insurance.
District Judge Goozee told Norris that he was ‘very lucky’ a third (and more serious charge) of impersonating a police officer was not pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service.
He said: “This is a serious offence which in my view warrants disqualification.
“I do give you credit for your early guilty plea.
“But this is a serious situation where you are using a vehicle with blue lights which means it is not insured.
“You are very lucky the CPS are not proceeding with the charge of impersonating a police officer and that you are only being dealt with for the offences you have convicted of today.”
Norris was banned from driving for 56 days and fined £400.
●●Andrew Norris was fined £400