Police have dropped a case against the Coxswain of the RNLI Lifeboat after initially charging him with speeding while he was responding to an emergency call out.
Jason Norman was due in the Magistrate's Court this week for speeding along Glategny Esplanade on his way to the Lifeboat. The Police have now written to advise him that no further action will be taken.
Mr Norman’s case was raised at the most-recent States’ meeting by Deputies Liam McKenna and Peter Ferbrache, President of the Policy & Resources Committee. Deputy Ferbrache said he was so outraged with the case that he would have represented Mr Norman as his advocate if the case went to Court.
“I am pleased for Jason that this has been dropped,” Deputy McKenna told Express. “Being on the lifeboat crew is not a hobby – it’s not a game – they’re heroes in our community. What they do is extraordinary.
“You can imagine that when you get a code red, meaning life is in imminent danger, every second counts. I couldn’t believe that in those circumstances Jason was being done for speeding when life was in danger at sea at 2.30am one morning.
“Unfortunately, the prosecution was going ahead. My only chance to help was to ask questions in the States.”
Pictured: Deputy McKenna asked questions of Home Affairs President Deputy Rob Prow in the States.
Mr Norman has served on the Lifeboat for 25 years. He was caught driving over the speed limit in a 25mph zone along Glategny Esplanade early in September. The Deputies’ questions were asked in the States on 13 October.
Deputy McKenna’s questions in the States were put to Deputy Rob Prow, President of the Committee for Home Affairs.
“On 2 September, the Coxswain of the Lifeboat was called out,” said Deputy McKenna. “Within eight minutes, he came along Glategny Esplanade with his light flashing to go to the aid of people in distress along with his crew. Crestfallen, the Coxswain returned home only to be called back…they came back and rescued the vessel.”
At the time of the questions in the States, six weeks after the incident, the case was still going to Court.
Deputy McKenna asked Deputy Prow whether he agreed that “this is a disgusting attitude to hold towards our local heroes who give up their lives continually for the safety of others” and told the Assembly that “we, as a community and as deputies, cannot allow this to happen”.
Replying in the States, Deputy Prow said it would be “inappropriate…to make any comment about any matter which is due to appear before the courts or indeed on any individual complaint”. Deputy Prow referred to the separation of powers between the judiciary and parliament.
Deputy Ferbrache asked a supplementary question. “Wouldn’t Deputy Prow agree with me, whatever the separation of powers, there is a degree of common sense which needs to be applied by the police officer in question, whoever recommended the prosecution and the Law Officers?”
The Presiding Officer directed that the question should not be answered as it did not arise out of the answer given to the original question, which was about the Police Complaints Commission.
“Following a review of the circumstances of this particular matter, no further action is being taken,” the Police told Express.
“However, it is clear that we need to carry out some work with responders who use green lights to make sure they are all aware of the rules around their use.
"They are not trained response drivers and, while green lights are designed to support efforts to get responders to incidents as quickly as is safely possible, the rules are in place to keep the travelling public safe at the same time.
“The use of such green lights does not permit speed limits to be exceeded and the light is intended to facilitate progress of a vehicle through traffic.
"Law Enforcement will work closely with relevant agencies to ensure all road users remain as safe as possible while balancing the rules of the road and the need to respond to serious incidents.”
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