A judge has hit out at “arrogant” motorists who use so-called ‘laser jammers’ to avoid speed detection after yet another high-flying businessman was hauled before the courts.
Judge Simon Hickey spared company boss Jonathan Fitton an immediate jail sentence but said his case was a glaring example of a new trend by which high-fliers “in high-powered, expensive cars” tried to dodge speeding points and keep their slates clean.
Fitton, 57, who runs a successful blinds company which employs 170 people across the north of England, was the fourth driver this year to be hauled before York Crown Court for using the illegal devices on North Yorkshire’s roads.
The married father-of-two was driving his privately-registered Range Rover on the A1(M) in Wetherby on October 1 last year when a speed-enforcement officer tried to get a speed reading which he suspected to be over the 70mph limit, York Crown Court heard.
But a laser jammer fitted to the Range Rover blocked the speed-detection signal, said prosecutor Rob Galley.
“The recording did not work but a photo was taken of the car and the officer was satisfied that the vehicle may have a laser-jammer-type device fitted to it,” he added
An investigation was launched and Fitton was traced to his home in Cheshire. He readily admitted he had fitted the laser jammer, along with several legal gadgets including a Snooper device for detecting speed cameras and a Blu Eye appliance for detecting police radio signals which alerts motorists to the presence of officers and emergency vehicles.
The businessman had also fitted a device called ‘The Blinder’ which makes vehicles “invisible” to speed-detection cameras and police laser guns, said Mr Galley.
Fitton, of Werneth Road, Woodley, near Stockport, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by using a device that interfered with a speed detector and appeared for sentence at the Crown Court on Friday.
The smartly-suited defendant, who runs Homefair Blinds based in Stockport, knew his liberty was at stake following a string of similar, high-profile cases in North Yorkshire in which otherwise law-abiding businessmen and women - many of whom run companies and travel long distances as part of their work - had been jailed or received suspended sentences.
Defence barrister Helen Longworth said Fitton had a clean driving record but had been on a speed-awareness course – an alternative to three points – about three years ago when he was caught speeding in a 30mph zone.
She said the company director and generous charity-giver now realised that using the laser jammer was a “very foolhardy and incorrect path”.
Judge Simon Hickey said Fitton’s case was the “third or fourth… that this Crown Court has had to deal with this year, involving persons deliberately using a device to jam a police speed camera”.
“And the common feature of all of these cases is that they involve high-power, expensive motor vehicles, often with personalised plates,” he added.
“They also involve a conscious decision to avoid speeding convictions that would lead to an increased financial burden or the loss of your licence. They show a degree of arrogance because people feel they are above the law by fitting these devices.”
He added: “Perverting the course of justice goes to the very heart of the criminal-justice system. North Yorkshire has 6,000 miles of road and is plagued by (people speeding on the roads).”
Mr Hickey said a jail sentence was unavoidable, but that the inevitable prison term could be suspended because of Fitton’s otherwise “impeccable” character, his remorse and frankness with police and the fact that his imprisonment, however short, would have an impact on his firm and others around him.
The three-month jail term was suspended for a year and Fitton was ordered to pay £220 costs, as well as a £150 statutory surcharge. There was no driving ban because it would affect Fitton’s livelihood and his company which was reliant upon him as sole owner.