Two young men who were caught on camera as they repeatedly rode round Rugby town centre doing wheelies on off-road motorbikes were tracked down through their Facebook pages.
But despite the risk they had posed to themselves and others, the police were ‘impressed by their co-operation’ – and believed they needed to be ‘educated,’ a judge has heard.
And although the judge at Warwick Crown Court declared that ‘that’s what custody is for,’ Benjamin Murray-Ross and Jay Skinner narrowly escaped with suspended sentences.
The two of them had pleaded guilty to four charges of dangerous driving on various dates in October last year, together with offences of having no insurance and no full licences.
Murray-Ross (18) of Newbold Street, Rugby, was given a six-month sentence suspended for two years and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work.
Skinner (19) of Knole Close, Rugby, who also admitted possessing a bladed article, a machete, was sentenced to eight months suspended for two years and ordered to take part in a rehabilitation activity and to do 150 hours of unpaid work.
Judge Stephen Eyre QC also disqualified them both for 12 months and made them subject to 7pm-7am curfews for two months.
Prosecutor Ian Windridge said: “Between the 1st and 22nd of October police received a considerable number of reports from residents of Rugby about young men riding around the town centre on off-road motorbikes, some where they weren’t wearing helmets.
“The police were concerned that with young men riding that sort of bike without helmets, any attempt to pursue them would increase the risk to those individuals themselves.
“So they did not undertake interception tactics, but CCTV recording was collated and Facebook was checked.”
That was how they were both traced and arrested.
Both accepted their involvement, and Mr Windridge said the police had been impressed by their co-operation and also believed the two needed to be educated.
The two were charged with one offence for each night they had been identified. Some CCTV clips were nshown.
Mr Windridge pointed out that Skinner also faced a charge of possessing a weapon after police found a picture on Facebook of him wearing a face mask he had had on while riding the motorbike and brandishing a machete on a supermarket car park.
Colin Charvil, defending, said: “Only a small part of the clips is what could be called dangerous.
“They were riding these machines at speeds commensurate with other road-users, and they do pull up at the light to allow pedestrians to cross, but then pull off before waiting for them to change to green.
“What you have is a case of two immature young men who are being extremely stupid and acting with bravado. They are not intending to put anyone in any danger.”
Of Skinner posing with the machete, he described it as ‘complete stupidity,’ adding: “It’s meant to make him look good. It doesn’t, it’s stupid.”
Judge Eyre told Murray-Ross and Skinner: “You engaged repeatedly in driving dangerously in the centre of Rugby.
“You rode at night on bikes which were off-road, and so had no lights, without helmets, doing wheelies and going the wrong way round roundabouts and through red lights.
“It is pure good fortune that people were not injured as a result of your stupid unlawful behaviour.
“I am told you need to learn. One of the purposes of sending people to young offender institutions is so they can learn the price of offending and learn to pull themselves together.
“It is by pure chance you are not both going down to the cells. I am just persuaded I am able to suspend the sentences.”