A MAN caught with a hoard of police equipment in his car had previously been fined for wearing the wrong ambulance uniform in public.

Miley Byrne’s Citroen Saxo was searched after police investigated reports of a vehicle driving through Copford with blue lights flashing.

Officers found equipment inside, including handcuffs and an extendable baton.

Colchester Magistrates’ Court was told Byrne had been fined 18 months earlier for wearing clothing at a speedway track which suggested he was a paramedic, when he was simply working with St John Ambulance.

Yesterday, the 21-year-old was ordered to do 60 hours unpaid work and pay £70 costs. At an earlier hearing, Byrne, of Challis Lane, Braintree, had admitted impersonating a police officer.

Philip Pearson, prosecuting, said a man had complained to the police about a car which had overtaken him on London Road, Copford, on January 20.

He said: “He saw a Citroen Saxo in his rear view mirror, in the middle of the road, with a blue flashing light in the front windscreen.

“He slowed to allow it to pass, as did other cars, and it overtook.

“The witness became suspicious because of the type of vehicle, so he noted the registration number and called the police.”

Matthew Swash, appearing for Byrne, said his client had shown “great regret at how foolish he was”. He added: “He was not dressed up, or pretending to be an officer, but was in the car with a friend and put the blue light on to impress him.”

Mr Swash said Byrne had worked five days a week as a volunteer for St John Ambulance for the past four years.

He was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and had been signed off work for eight months.

Mr Swash added: “He has suffered as a result of witnessing accidents where children have been seriously injured or killed.

“This is a career he would like to go into and St John has not written him off, but it wants him to be fully fit and able before he comes back to work.”