A 40-year-old man has been fined after accidentally setting off someone else's Police hotline handset, panicking when officers arrived, and then fleeing with the phone before throwing it out of a car window.
Gavin Starks (40) appeared in the Magistrate’s Court this week to be sentenced for the offence, which began at the property of a woman he knew.
Having spotted the hotline handset there, he "tried to use" the handset, which then “immediately diverted to the States of Jersey Police.”
St. Helier's Centenier explained to Court that the handsets are distributed by the Police to particular individuals who might need to contact them on a regular basis as a safeguarding measure. It's understood that the woman had the phone as she has previously been the victim of a crime.
Pictured: The alarm was triggered by the handset and Police units were sent to the address.
In response to the handset being triggered, Starks then reportedly tried to “pull the battery out the phone” to stop the call and “left the property” with the handset and battery. However, “because the alarm had been triggered”, Police officers had already been sent.
The Court was told that as Starks was driving away, "he jettisoned the phone from his vehicle."
“A search later by a Police dog found the battery, but not the remainder of the telephone,” the Centenier explained.
Advocate Francesca Pinel, representing Starks, added that the woman was aware her client had access to the property.
He was in the house looking for some “paperwork” and whilst searching for it he found the phone – a handset he didn’t recognise – and “out of curiosity he tapped the screen”. The Advocate said that he then “panicked” when it dialled the Police and he “left with the phone.”
Pictured: The case was heard in the Magistrate's Court.
When questioned by Magistrate Bridget Shaw, presiding, why he felt it was appropriate to look at a phone which didn’t belong to him, Advocate Pinel replied: “He knows now he shouldn’t have done that.”
Addressing the Magistrate on sentencing, Advocate Pinel emphasised that her client was cooperative with the Police and is “apologetic for this and the inconvenience” it has caused.
Handing down her ruling, Magistrate Shaw noted that “this is an offence which has occurred in unusual circumstances” and arose from Starks’ “interference” with the woman’s belongings.
Ordering the 40-year-old to pay for the cost of the handset – around £144 – as well as a £500 fine, the Magistrate warned him: “You have absolutely no business picking up her phone… You have no business to be curious about her phone or any other item of her property.
“Her property, her life; nothing to do with you," she cautioned.
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