A Sheffield man has been fined after being caught smoking in a car with a child – in what is thought to be one of the first prosecutions of its kind.
Jake Downing was stopped in his van by police on the A1 in Morpeth, Northumberland, and was found to be puffing away on a cigarette with a youngster in a car seat beside him.
Legislation introduced in October 2015 makes it illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying someone under 18.
But police forces have found it extremely difficult to enforce the law and, as of June this year, only three in England and Wales reported incidents, all dealt with by verbal warnings.
But now, in what is thought to be one of the first in the country, a man has been successfully prosecuted in court.
Downing, aged 28, of Algar Road, Arbourthorne, pleaded guilty to smoking in a vehicle in which a child is present after being stopped by police on the A1 in Morpeth on May 20 this year.
Ian Lowther, prosecuting at South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court, said: “Two officers were on mobile patrol in a marked police vehicle travelling north on the A1 at Morpeth.
“Their attention was drawn to a Nissan Kubistar travelling directly in front of them. The emergency lights of the police car were illuminated and the van was pulled over.
“Officers made their way to the driver’s side where the driver was found to be smoking a cigarette.
“In the front of the vehicle was a young child in a child car seat.”
Those caught smoking in a car with a minor face a warning, a £50 fixed penalty or a fine of up to £200 if convicted in a magistrates’ court.
Downing, who was travelling from Sheffield to Berwick, also pleaded guilty to having a defective hand brake, defective front tyre and travelling with a passenger in the back of his van, which was likely to cause danger.
He was fined £160 and given six points on his licence. He was also ordered to pay £40 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
Chf Insp John Heckels said Downing was taken to court because of the young age of the child.
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