When You're Thumbing Your Nose at the Law With a Laser Jammer, Maybe You Shouldn't Also Flip Them Off

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
when youre thumbing your nose at the law with a laser jammer maybe you shouldnt also

At first, the headlines looked like a serious breach of justice: “Man Gets 8 Months In Prison After Flipping-Off Traffic Camera.” A jail sentence for a rude gesture?

As much as I have concerns about civil liberties and law enforcement, after tracking down the actual news (or at least a press release from the relevant police agency), it appears the case wasn’t as simple as jailing a man for flipping a bird at a speed camera. I have to say that the guy probably deserved some legal grief, if only for being too brazen.

On three different occasions, Timothy Hill, 67, of Grassington in North Yorkshire, UK, was photographed extending his middle finger as he drove past police vans equipped with speed cameras on the A19 highway last December. The UK has some rather strange laws concerning free expression, so I can’t say for sure that Hill would have completely avoided trouble had he not used sign language to tell Johnny Law to go screw himself, as he had also spec’d his Range Rover with a laser jammer.

Laser jammers are highly illegal in the UK, and apparently the camera vans were equipped with devices to detect them. So, it’s possible Mr. Hill would have been caught even without making the obscene gesture but, as a man who believes in hiding in plain sight, I have to say that Tim was a bit imprudent and unnecessarily brought attention unto himself.

I’m guessing the jammer actually worked, as the police did not charge Hill with any speeding violations. Instead, they charged him with the crime of “perverting the course of justice” — something I assume is comparable to a felony obstruction of justice charge in the U.S., because it carries a prison sentence if convicted. When Hill found out he was under investigation, he tried to destroy the evidence by throwing the laser jammer into a river that flowed behind his home. However, when confronted with evidence, he admitted using the device and agreed to plead guilty to the charges.

The judge in Teesside Crown Court said Hill’s use of the laser jammer and subsequent attempt to destroy evidence thereof were actions that “strike at the heart” of the justice system and sentenced him to eight months in prison as a deterrent to others. Hill’s driving license was also revoked for a year.

North Yorkshire Police did an endzone dance using traditional and social media. Via a press release, Traffic Constable Andrew Forth, who led the investigation, said, “If you want to attract our attention, repeatedly gesturing at police camera vans with your middle finger while you’re driving a distinctive car fitted with a laser jammer is an excellent way to do it.” The department released live action video of Hill flipping said birds and tweeted: “Top tip: If you want to stay out of trouble, don’t do what this driver did and swear at our mobile safety cameras while driving past in a car fitted with a laser jammer. Today he’s beginning 8 months in jail for perverting the course of justice.”

[Image: North Yorkshire Police]

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  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Apr 25, 2018

    I find it odd after reading some of the comments regarding what freedom of speech is, or for that matter what is freedom by our B&B? Freedom isn't having the right to do as one wants. Many people who exercise what they deem as their freedom encroaches and affects others are in fact reducing their (the other's) right to freedom. I don't think giving the bird was the reason for his imprisonment, it was a collection of several not too bright decisions he's made. Freedom. I believe some of you guys really need to sit down and understand what freedom really is. American freedom is quite selfish at times, with little regard for others, Aussie freedom, UK freedom, any freedom is the same when abused by the selfish.

    • See 6 previous
    • Roader Roader on Apr 27, 2018

      @Roader Al, I've had my TTAC logon name for at least a decade. I've never had a different one. Per capita GDP (US$-PPP-2017); 2017 GDP growth: United States $59,495; 2.2% Australia $49,882; 2.2% Canada $48,141; 3.0% United Kingdom $43,620; 1.7% New Zealand $38,502; 2.9% Agree, last year's GDP growth in the US wasn't great–most likely a hangover from Obama's awful performance–but that seems to be turning around: 'Amid signs of labor market buoyancy, the Fed also raised its forecast, predicting the economy would grow this year at an annual rate of 2.7 percent, up from 2.5 percent in December. Employers around the country are reporting difficulty finding skilled workers with the unemployment rate at 4.1 percent and headed lower. First-time claims for unemployment insurance fell to 209,000 in the week through April 21, the lowest level since 1969. “The Trump administration can stop looking for ways to bring jobs to America because almost everyone out there in the country who has a heartbeat has found employment already,” economist Chris Rupkey of MUFG Union Bank told clients in a research note Thursday.' WaPo, 27 Apr '18

  • Kosmo Kosmo on Apr 25, 2018

    Seems like an irrelevant pissing match that got out of hand. In any event, 8 months in jail for an essentially victimless crime BY A 67 YEAR OLD MAN seems ludicrous.

    • See 1 previous
    • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Apr 27, 2018

      @Corey Lewis This is a law that took a man's liberty for a victimless crime. The shark has been jumped.

  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.