A CELEBRITY lookalike landed himself in court after mimicking an obscene gesture used by the TV character he is a dead-ringer for.
Budding engineer Steven Abbey, 20, is the spitting image of young actor James Buckley, 23, who plays Jay on the award-winning hit Channel 4 commedy The Inbetweeners.
Abbey looks like the character so much, his friends even call him Jay.
But he ended up in hot water on a night out in Hartlepool when he copied a gesture made by the character in the show towards a group of pals – but police believed it was aimed at them.
He was arrested and spent a night in a cell. But after hearing an explanation, magistrates decided he shouldn’t be given a criminal conviction.
Abbey, who has never been in trouble with the police before, said: “I’m so relieved. I never thought looking like Jay from the Inbetweeners would land me in court.”
The Inbetweeners has become a cult comedy with a teenage audience, and Abbey’s similarity to Jay had become a standing joke with pals as he was continuously likened to the character.
But trouble started for Abbey, of Oxford Road, Hartlepool, on a night out in the town centre on February 26, after he was “fooling around” with pals and was asked to leave the Showroom nightspot by bouncers.
The former electrical engineering student at Hartlepool College of Further Education initially represented himself in court and told justices police were going to issue him a Direction to Leave order, but were called away on another matter.
The court heard how he was about to leave the pub after the incident at around 1.25am, when he realised one his pals had his house keys.
As he tried to persuade doormen to let him back in, police returned and slapped him with the order to leave and he headed off to a taxi as his friends looked on.
But as the cab drove away, Abbey told the court he wound down the window and made the gesture used by Jay in the show to the friends who were mocking him about looking like the character. But police took exception, believing it was meant for them.
Officers stopped the taxi and Abbey was arrested for being drunk and disorderly and was locked up at Hartlepool Police Station for the night.
Prosecuting, Joanne Hesse told the court: “Abbey was observed to be drunk and was making abusive hand gestures towards the officers. He was subsequently arrested and charged.”
But Abbey denied the claims and told the court: “I saw a group of lads who’d been calling me Jay off The Inbetweeners all night so I did this hand gesture to them which starts off like a wave and then turns more abusive.
“I wasn’t aiming the gesture at the police officers, I was aiming it at those lads. I was drunk but I wasn’t out of control, I knew what I was doing and I can remember.”
Justices urged Abbey, of Oxford Road, Hartlepool, to seek legal advice from town solicitor John Relton, to help his cause.
Mr Relton later told the court: “This young man has been dealt with rather harshly. There is a popular TV character who does a similar thing so it seems to be acceptable to act in that manner. It was banter between him and his group of friends.
“He is a man of good character with no police offences at all.”
Chairman of the bench John Jenkins bound Abbey over for six months in the sum of £50 to prevent any future disorder.
After the hearing, Abbey told the Mail: “I was over the moon when they dropped the charge because I didn’t want to pay for something I hadn’t done, or end up having a criminal record which could affect me getting a job in the future.
“I’ll have to be more careful when I’m out in the future.”