A judge has strongly condemned the actions of a man who impersonated a cop and performed a bogus traffic stop on a serving off-duty police officer on a Northern Ireland motorway.
District Judge Bernie Kelly described the behaviour as “sinister” and highlighted the risks and fears for women and girls.
Matueusz Prokopiuk (37) from Hobson Park, Portadown fitted blue flashing lights to his vehicle which he activated to induce a car to pull in. He then spoke to the driver claiming to be a police officer.
The happened on October 14, 2020 on the M12, Craigavon.
He initially denied the charges but changed his plea just as a contest was to begin at Craigavon Magistrates Court.
District Judge Bernie Kelly said: “The defendant used blue flashing lights fitted to stop another car.
"That is sinister to put it mildly. We live in an era where unfortunately a young lady lost her life at the hands of a police officer. And no later than this week, Ashling Murphy at 23 years of age, lost her life.”
She stated: “Why do men think this is okay?”
A defence lawyer said this case had "none of those awful features".
But Judge Kelly shot back: “When someone arms themselves with material to pass themselves off as a police officer in their car, it is sinister. It doesn’t take much to stretch that to your client patrolling the streets at night looking for lone females.”
She added: “Thankfully this case involved an off-duty police officer who was able to report the matter and had the wherewithal to identify the defendant and have him detected.”
In response to an enquiry as to the lights said Prokopiuk fitted to his car, a senior police officer in attendance confirmed they had been removed
Addressing Prokopiuk directly Judge Kelly said: “Do you realise how serious this is?"
On confirming he fully understood, Judge Kelly enquired: “Then why did you do it? What was the point of putting blue lights on the front of your car and trying to imitate a police officer?”
Prokopiuk replied: “It was the worst decision of my life.”
Ordering pre-sentence reports, Judge Kelly said “I’m just sorry I can’t do more. I’m sorry I can’t put him on some sort of register.”
Sentencing is to take place next month.