A reckless petrol head has been banned from driving for a year after racing on a public road and letting his friends surf on his car bonnet.
Lee O’Brien was 17 when he met up with dozens of drivers for an illegal street race in the Gorse Lane Industrial Estate in Clacton, Essex, on June 23, 2019.
He was identified as being behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta, speeding with his legs in the car but his torso hanging out of the window – while his mates rode on the bonnet and roof.
When O’Brien, now 18, took his turn he was seen standing on top of the car before balancing on the windscreen. The boy racer is the final member of the group to be handed a driving ban following the illegal event.
In a landmark case, the meeting’s organiser was also given a disqualification despite never getting behind the wheel of a car on the day.
O’Brien, was convicted of dangerous driving, aiding and abetting dangerous driving, illegal racing and driving without insurance.
Some 20 motorists have already been handed driving bans totalling 302 months altogether.
O’Brien, from Clacton, was prosecuted separately due to charges of dangerous driving and no-insurance offences he committed in addition to the racing.
He attended a series of court hearings leading to a full trial at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on January 21 this year.
The trainee electrician was found guilty of all offences, and bailed to Chelmsford Crown Court for sentencing, with an immediate interim disqualification from driving imposed until then.
Cameron Scott, defending, said his client knew what he had done was wrong. Speaking to the court on Wednesday, he said : ‘He is a young man who admittedly drove in a stupid fashion.
Although the industrial estate was open there were no pedestrians around. He realises how dangerous his behaviour could have been and expresses his remorse.’
O’Brien was handed 12 months disqualification from driving with an extended retest being required after that period before he can drive again.
He was also sentenced to a 12-month community order with 10 days rehabilitation activity requirement, as well as participation in the court-mandated Thinking Skills program.
Judge Patricia Lynch QC said: ‘I am not going to send you to prison, but I hope you understand you have been fortunate.
‘I am not going to lecture you on how dangerous this was – the person most at risk of harm in this incident was probably yourself. A lot of this probably had a lot to do with your immaturity as you were just 17 at the time.’
Chigwell Road Policing Unit’s Investigating officer Sergeant Simon Willsher said: ‘This driver put not only himself at risk but numerous others by driving up and down the road with people on his roof.
‘He then allowed others to drive whilst he sat on the bonnet, and took part in the subsequent racing, which all insurance policies specifically exclude from cover for obvious reasons.
‘At one point a man on the roof of his car almost lost grip as the car turned a corner, with his legs and lower body swinging out.
‘Had he fallen under the wheels, the outcome could have been tragic for his loved ones.
‘These 20 young drivers all face lengthy periods of being banned from driving and O’Brien will have to pass a difficult extended driving test to get his licence back.
‘It is only luck that nobody was seriously hurt during this event, as has been seen in other parts of the country when car meets such as these go wrong and end in serious injuries or worse.
‘We will not tolerate racing on our roads and I’m glad the courts have reinforced this message.’
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