Magistrates have given a banned driver a night off from his curfew - so he could take his girlfriend on a romantic Valentine's night date.The joke’s on us, I fear.
Officials amazingly agreed to Liam Cook's request on the condition that he returned home before midnight.
They even joked that the Prince Charming could turn into 'a pumpkin' if he didn't get back from his date on time.
But road safety campaigners today attacked the move, claiming it sends out the wrong message to offenders.Hmm, I wonder what gave him the impression that the justice system was a soft touch full of wet do-gooders in the first place, and prompted this request?
Cook, 22, was originally brought before Peterlee Magistrates' Court for driving while disqualified, driving with no insurance and failing to surrender to bail after being stopped by police on December 10.
He was given a three-month community order, part of which was a 7pm to 6am curfew and had eight points put on his licence.
It’s a real mystery…
He told the bench at Peterlee Magistrates' Court: 'I'm asking for it so I can take my lass out for a meal. It's just for the night.'Who’s astonished…? Not me, anymore. I’m afraid.
Astonishingly, his request went down well with magistrates.
I wouldn’t have been astonished if they’d also awarded him a few pounds out of the poor box to buy her a drink…
Chairman of the bench Mervyn Hardy said: : 'Obviously it's a very serious matter, driving whilst disqualified, and wouldn't normally vary it in any circumstances, but we are mindful that it was during the day and the curfew is for three months.Eh…? He varied his curfew because his original offence was during daylight…? Even though he was also uninsured, and I’m pretty damn sure that was a 24/7 offence!
'We are going to vary it until midnight, but you must be back at your nan's at midnight.
'That should give you a nice evening with your partner and to get home.
'But make sure you don't change into a pumpkin because I am sure it will be very serious.'
These magistrates are taking us all for mugs!
The magistrates' decision was attacked by road safety campaigners.They weren’t unaware of it – they simply don’t care. They probably reckon (no doubt quite rightly) that they won’t be driving in or around any of the areas that Cook and his fellow underclass frequent, so don’t run much of a risk by letting him out.
Amy Aeron-Thomas, executive director of charity RoadPeace said: 'As a repeat offender, Cook should have known very well that he was risking a curfew if he continued to break the law by driving whilst uninsured and disqualified.
'The magistrates' decision to lift this ban is very regrettable as it reduces the deterrence effect and sends the wrong message to drivers.
'We can only assume that the magistrates were unaware of the link between disqualified driving and increased collision risk.
'These are the drivers that we need off the road both day and night.'
The rest of us…? Well, we’ll just have to lump it, won’t we?