PAUL LICENSE: End of road isn’t end of the story

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I MUST be pretty gullible.

You see, I believe what I am told.

What’s more, I think that what I am told is all there is to a story.

I know some people sometimes leave out little embarrassing bits.

But generally, I reckon I am getting the full picture.

That’s why I believed it when I learned that after police seize off road motorbikes, they are sent to the crusher.

End of the road. End of story. But that isn’t quite the end of it.

You see, we had a story earlier this week about a teenage in Shiregreen who had been riding like an idiot around the estate on his trials bike.

He was seen weaving in and out of traffic and having near-misses with cars on the road.

He also rode on footpaths before powering the machine into Concord Park and driving around in a manner which a judge described as ‘pregnant with risk’.

The same judge, at Sheffield Crown Court, must have seen beyond teenager Andrew Beech’s immediate behaviour and spotted a spark of decency.

The 18-year-old was, at the time of his appearance in court, no stranger to the judicial system, having been sentenced to a youth rehabilitation order just months before for affray.

And he clearly showed no respect for the laws of the road, having ridden his bike not only in a reckless and dangerous manner but also without tax or insurance.

But, as I say, the judge looked deeper into this youth’s potential and decided to be lenient with him.

He said: “He may not be lost entirely to a life of crime. This is a lenient sentence...”

And with that, he issued a suspended sentence to Beech and said he should pop along to a Thinking Skills programme.

I am not surprised that some people in Shiregreen shook their heads in dismay.

What kind of signal is that for the other youths who think that laws are for others and not for them?

But the thing which really made me sit up and take notice was the fact that Beech’s bike was seized by the police.

And then he was allowed to pay to get it back! At a knock-down price, at that.

He had paid £500 for the off road bike just a few days before the offences took place.

When he went to the police station, he handed over £150 to get it back - and then sold it on for £400.

What does a youth have to do to lose his bike for good?

Why wasn’t the machine packed off to a scrapyard and crushed?

What were the police doing selling a bike to a banned and clearly unreliable youth?

Not that I blame the police.

There are clearly some rules and guidelines here which say that this is the practice which should be followed in these instances.

Which nincompoop thought up such a crazy system?

And what encouragement does it give the police to pursue such offenders?

And let’s be clear.

Catching Beech was not an inexpensive operation.

It required the police helicopter to fly overhead and photograph him for identification purposes.

Who foots the bill for all this? That’s right, Joe and Josephine Public.

The same people who must be sick to the back teeth of kids riding off road bikes around our parks and countryside without a care in the world.