A WIGAN painter and decorator has become the first English motorist to be prosecuted for hogging a motorway’s centre lane.
But Ian Stephens this week told the Wigan Observer that he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice and is hoping to appeal against his conviction as well as the fine and costs which total almost £1,000.
I feel I have been very harshly treatedIan Stephens
The 42-year-old father of two from Church Lane, Shevington, was sentenced in his absence by Leeds magistrates, having been pulled over by a motorway patrol on the M62 near Huddersfield as he returned from a family visit to Yorkshire.
The new offence, aimed at reducing congestion and tailgating, had only been in force for a few days last August when police pulled him onto the hard shoulder.
The court was told Mr Stephens had several opportunities to move his Citroen Berlingo the inside lane, but didn’t. He was said to have been driving in “an inconsiderate manner,” blocking at least six other vehicles, which had to brake and overtake him.
Mr Stephens, who had pleaded not guilty, did not attend the hearing, having requested (in vain as it turned out) that it be transferred to Wigan Magistrates’ Court so it did not adversely affect his business so much.
Now he is wishing he had been there.
He said: “I feel I have been very harshly treated. On that day there was heavy traffic in all three lanes and the middle one, that my van was in, was going faster - I’d say about 60mph or more - than the inside lane which had a lot of lorries in it.
“I do remember there was an inside lane gap at one point between two HGVs but that would have meant slowing down, losing my momentum on a windy day as we went up a steep hill and then either causing the inside lane traffic to go even slower or another type of hazard as I tried to pull out again.
“I did nothing different from the other cars in my lane and if had, as it was claimed, caused numerous other vehicles to swerve and brake, surely that would be reckless driving? In fact as I was heading in a straight lane at a consistant speed one wonder what they were doing.”
Mr Stephens, who as well as having to pay out £940 also had five points put on his licence, said: “I am a one-man operation. I can ill afford this. I am going to Citizens’ Advice to see what my options are to appeal.”