A man who smashed his way into a factory worker's car during Tuesday evening's storm claimed he did it because he was terrified of being struck by lightning, a court heard.
Hamza Akram (24) was found sitting in the vehicle by the shocked owner Daniel Layfield during the torrential downpour.
Burnley magistrates were told Akram didn't intend to steal anything. His solicitor Mr Adnan Hanif told the hearing: "He had a genuine fear he would be struck by lightning. The lightning was getting stronger and stronger."
The defendant, of Colne Road, Burnley, admitted causing £100 damage to the car window, on September 13th. Akram, who is on employment support allowance, was fined £80 and must pay £100 compensation, a £30 victim surcharge and £30 costs.
Prosecutor Mr Andrew Robinson described the offence as "unusual" and said it occurred during the adverse weather conditions.
The car was parked at an industrial premises in Netherwood Road, Burnley, where Mr Layfield was working. Due to the torrential rain the staff had become drenched and the duty manager had given permission for them to go home and have a change of clothing. The factory was flooded.
Mr Robinson said Mr Layfield walked to his car, which was parked under CCTV by the bike shed, went into the shed to shelter while he found his keys and moved a black mountain bike. The prosecutor continued: "As he moved it, he heard a male shout 'Oi, get off my bike'. That shocked him and he turned round. The passenger side window of his car had been smashed and he saw him sitting in the passenger seat. He shouted to his colleagues, his colleagues came out and the defendant was detained."
Mr Robinson said Akram was interviewed and told police he was sheltering from the rain. He added: "Quite why he couldn't have sheltered in the bike shed is not entirely clear. It's accepted he was not trying to steal anything from the car."
Mr Hanif said CCTV showed the defendant knocking on the door of the factory. He said: "He couldn't get in and the next best option was to smash the passenger window."
The solicitor said Akram was motivated by nothing other then his personal safety and got into the vehicle to prevent him being struck by lightning. He continued: "The law doesn't afford him any reasonable excuse, even in these circumstances, to commit the offence of criminal damage. He doesn't have a defence."