Driver using phone

A VAN driver who denied owning a mobile phone after he was seen using it while driving was left red-faced when it rang.

A police officer had spotted Philip Smith using the device as he drove along Stockton Road, Hartlepool.

But when he was stopped, the 51-year-old denied having a phone in his Iveco vehicle – but was forced to change his tune when the officer heard a ringtone coming from a door pocket.

Smith admitted using a hand-held mobile phone while driving on July 4, last year, at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court after failing to pay a fixed penalty fine.

Town justices fined him £60 and ordered him to pay £50 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge. His driving licence was also endorsed with three points.

The self-employed builder, of Arch Court, Hartlepool, represented himself in court, calling his failure to pay “just an oversight”.

Joanne Hesse, prosecuting, said: “It was 2.45pm when an officer saw a white van go past the traffic lights with the driver holding a mobile phone.

“The driver informed the officer that he did not own a mobile phone, but while he was talking the phone rang. He admitted that it did belong to him.

“He was given a fixed penalty notice, which the defendant has not complied with.”