Lina Khatib, pictured here on her mobile phone, was fined £90 and received six penalty points on her licence after she was spotted by an officer in an unmarked police car using her handset
A Muslim woman caught using her mobile phone at the wheel of her car tried to avoid a conviction by claiming she had been a state of ‘panic’ at the time whilst fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan.
Lina Khatib, 32, was pulled over by police at a set of traffic lights after an officer in an unmarked patrol car spotted her pressing buttons on her device while her two year old son was stood up in the back seat.
The mother of two faced having her driving licence endorsed with six penalty points under new laws introduced last March to deter motorists from using mobiles whilst driving following a string of road tragedies.
But Mrs Khatib, from Wythenshawe, Manchester pleaded with a court not to give her any points – saying at the time of the incident she had been abstaining from food during the day as part of her religious faith and had been ‘scared’ as her child had taken off his seat belt.
She said she had been planning to pull over at the side of the road but had picked up her phone so the satnav system could give her directions to the nearby town of Altrincham where she was planning to buy clothes for the Eid festival.
At Manchester magistrates court Mrs Khatib pleaded guilty to using a handheld device whilst driving but argued ‘special reasons’ why her driving licence should not be endorsed.
Her pleas were rejected by JPs who gave her six penalty points and fined her £90 with £115 in costs and surcharges.
The incident occurred at 9.20am on June 22 – two days before Ramadan was due to end – when Mrs Khatib was spotted driving her Toyota Auris along the busy Shaftsbury Avenue main road in Timperley.
Traffic officer PC Sailesh Patel told the hearing: ‘I saw her drive across the front of my vehicle and I saw a young child stood up in the rear of the vehicle. The child was not wearing a seatbelt.
‘I followed the vehicle to the junction. I was behind the vehicle, there were no vehicles between us. I stopped next to the passenger door at the junction. The defendant stopped in lane two and I stopped in lane one. At this point I looked through the driver’s window to see the driver pick a mobile phone up and started pressing it with her right hand with her thumb on the screen.
‘I attracted her attention and showed her I was from the police and I asked her to pull into the lay-by. The conversation was that I witnessed her with the phone and that there was a child with no seatbelt on.
Ms Khatib was driving along Shaftsbury Avenue in Timperley while using her mobile phone
Ms Khatib told Manchester Magistrates’ Court, pictured, she picked up the handset so she could hear the voice on the phone’s sat nav as she was panicking because her two-year-old son had unfastened his seat belt and was standing on the back seat of the car
‘She said her child kept getting out by himself and she just picked her phone up to check it. She didn’t mention anything about checking her sat nav and didn’t mention anything about pulling over.’
Prosecuting, Marion Nolan, said: ‘The main concern should have been for other people. She should have pulled over and not reached for her phone and dealt with the child.’
But speaking through an interpreter, Khatib told the magistrates: ‘I had my son in the back car seat and had another child in the car, my daughter.
When my son was taking his seatbelt off I intended to go down a side road to calm him down. I don’t feel safe going to a side road, my driving is not very good
‘My son was two years old and my daughter was 11 months – she was asleep. My son had undone his seatbelt. At some point he stood up and moved the seatbelt. I was telling him to stop and get to the back.
‘I was very scared, I was very panicked, I feared for my son at the time. I decided to pick up my phone to hear the voice clearly and to hear what to do and put up the volume.
‘I opened the sat nav to see where I was going. I intended to stop so I was able to fasten his seatbelt but because I’m not familiar with the streets and the area I was panicking.
‘My son was nagging and I was not able to concentrate. The only time I picked up my phone was when I was stationary at the lights. I intended to find somewhere to pull over to put the seatbelt on because of his safety.
‘For all those reasons I have a special reason. I remember telling the officer that I was using the phone for sat nav purposes. I told him three times maybe two. At the time I was very panicked and anxious. I did lock the doors of the car at the time because of my son.
‘I was in the area because it was Ramadan and we fast up to 18 hours – we don’t usually go out but because Eid was near I went out to by clothes. I was going to Altrincham and I’m not familiar with that.
‘I had been to the area about three or four times. I use the navigation and this helped me go where I need to go. I usually use my phone holder in my car however this day I didn’t have it and that’s why I picked it up with my hand.
‘When my son was taking his seatbelt off I intended to go down a side road to calm him down. I don’t feel safe going to a side road, my driving is not very good.
‘I was telling you my son was screaming at the time I was not able to do anything in the position I was in. I was very panicked and my hands were shaking.’
But rejecting her argument chairman of the magistrates, Ms Kasra Akbar, told Mrs Kahtib: ‘You put yourself, your child and other people in danger. You know the law.’
Laws issuing drivers with a minimum of six penalty points if they are caught using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel were brought in after motoring organisations said the issue had become an ‘epidemic.’
According to figures, last year 22 people were killed and 99 seriously injured in road accidents in Britain where drivers were using a mobile phone.