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Bilston car cruiser narrowly escapes prison sentence

A Bilston man narrowly avoided jail after he was convicted of contempt of court for breaching a Black Country wide ban on car cruising - and driving at a police officer in a threatening manner.

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Car cruising logo

Luke Smith, 19, of Best Road, Bilston, appeared before the High Court sitting in Birmingham on Wednesday (2 August, 2017) where he admitted the breach after participating in a car cruise in Bilston on the afternoon of Sunday 14 May, 2017.

Smith was riding a black quad bike in the convoy which travelled along the Black Country Route, Coseley Road, High Street, Millfields Road, Dudley Street and Lichfield Street, as well as on grassland to the rear of South Wolverhampton and Bilston Academy. The car cruise comprised up to 30 vehicles at any one time, with Smith present at each location.

The court also heard that Smith drove at PC Stuart Hemming, who had spotted the convoy and raised his arm towards Smith in a gesture to stop, "at speed", with PC Hemming having to take evasive action and jump out of the way of Smith's vehicle "for his own safety".

The court heard that Smith, who admitted breaching the injunction in 5 ways - by participating in a car cruise, by using threatening and intimidating behaviour, by driving in a moving convoy, by causing an obstruction and by speeding - was of previous good character and had not been in trouble with the police before.

However, warning that Smith could very easily have been facing a jail term, His Honour Judge McKenna said: "Car cruising is dangerous and puts the public and other road users at risk. The courts take breach of the injunction seriously, and others of a similar mindset must be deterred from seeking to act in this way.

"The defendant must be in no doubt of the seriousness of these breaches and must be in no doubt that this matter well exceeds the custody thresholds.

"By the narrowest of margins, in light of the defendant's mitigation, the court will not impose an immediate custodial sentence."

Instead, Smith was sentenced to 6 months for intimidating behaviour and 2 months for each of the other breaches, with the sentences running concurrently and suspended for the remainder of the life of the injunction. Smith was also banned from riding the quad bike for the next 7 months and ordered to pay £821.32 costs.

Judge McKenna warned that if there were to be a further breach, Smith "should be in no doubt that he would be looking at a substantial immediate custodial sentence."

Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "Judge McKenna's comments make it very clear that this individual was very lucky to avoid an immediate custodial sentence, and that the authorities take the issue of car cruising in the Black Country very seriously indeed.

"This sends out a very clear message to anyone thinking of organising or taking part in a car cruise, namely that the police and the Black Country councils will not hesitate to take action against them - and that they could be jailed."

Inspector Julie Mason, Policing Lead for the Black Country car cruise injunction, said: "We are here to protect the public and for someone to intentionally try and run a police officer over whilst they are carrying out their duties is totally unacceptable.

"We will continue to work with the local authorities in the Black Country to eradicate this anti social and dangerous behaviour and make our boroughs safer places to live, work and socialise."

Smith is the 17th person to be convicted of breaching the injunction which came into force in 2015. It prohibits people from taking part in a car cruise - defined as the act of drivers meeting on the public highway on an organised or impromptu basis to race or show off in their cars - anywhere within the 4 Black Country boroughs.

It also bans people from promoting, organising or publicising such an event in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton, and prohibits a number of activities and consequences typically associated with car cruising, including speeding, racing or driving in convoy, performing stunts, obstructing the highway, excessive noise, and causing the risk of harm to people or property.

Anyone who breaches the injunction faces being in contempt of court, for which they could face up to 2 years in prison and a fine, while police can also take action against individuals for traffic offences including driving without due care and attention, driving without insurance or driving an unroadworthy vehicle.

For more information about the car cruising injunction, please visit Car cruising injunction. Incidents of car cruising should be reported to West Midlands Police on 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.

  • released: Monday 7 August, 2017