Burnley drug-driver was stopped by police after being seen on mobile phone

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

A drug-driver stopped by police was allowed to get back behind the wheel when he was released from custody, a court heard.

James Green, who had cannabis and a derivative of cocaine in his system when given a blood test, was taken back to his vehicle by officers and handed his keys two hours later.

Burnley magistrates were told how the 29-year-old had been pulled over on Queen Victoria Road in the town, because he had been using his mobile phone.

He told officers he had “had a few toots”.

A drugs test proved positive and he was taken to the police station, where he was found to have almost five times the limit of cannabis and more than twice the cocaine limit in his body.

Mr Geoff Ireland, defending, told the hearing: "The defendant says that particular evening he felt perfectly capable of driving. I suspect the police took a similar view.”

Green was not stopped because of the manner of his driving. There was no suggestion his vehicle was being driven badly. He was stopped because he had been seen with a mobile phone in his hand.

The solicitor continued: "He said he received a text message, he looked at it and was seen by the police.”

Mr Ireland said officers could smell cannabis in his vehicle, but not because he had been using it at the time. He had used the drug some time before.

The solicitor went on: ”In the vehicle was his girlfriend and she had been using cannabis and that was the reason it did smell in the vehicle. He says he is a very occasional user of cocaine.”

Mr Ireland told the court: "Police took him back to his vehicle and gave him his keys and said, 'Off you go,' and that was two hours later.

"Probably when he got back behind that wheel again two hours later he might still have been over the limit. The police put him back behind the wheel. That tells me the police thought there was nothing wrong with his driving. They were quite happy for him to get behind the wheel.”

Green, of Sefton Terrace, Burnley, admitted two counts of driving with a proportion of a specified controlled drug above the specified limit - one relating to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and the other to benzoylecgonine.

He was fined £120, with a £32 victim surcharge and £85 costs and was banned for 12 months.

The Bench told him: "The reason for the sentence is police sent you on your way after your release from custody and allowed you to carry on driving and you have been to Inspire (the drugs treatment service).