A YOUNG motorist who was being egged on by his pals recklessly tailed an ambulance as it sped towards an emergency.
Worried ambulance staff saw 20-year-old Matthew Ogilvie repeatedly cross solid white lines as he drove his Ford Fiesta behind their ambulance on the A596, at times getting to within a metre of its back bumper.
At Carlisle’s Rickergate Magistrates’ Court, the defendant, of Hebden Avenue, Morton, Carlisle, admitted dangerous driving.
Peter Kelly, prosecuting, said the ambulance crew were responding to a road traffic accident near Wigton on August 10 last year, driving along the road with the emergency vehicle’s siren and blue lights activated.
As is normal, motorists pulled over to let the ambulance pass.
But one of the paramedics on board the ambulance noticed that a Ford Fiesta was driving immediately behind them.
The driver appeared to be mimicking the ambulance.
On several occasions, Ogilvie steered his Fiesta across solid white lines to stay near to the ambulance, contravening traffic law.
The journey – between Thursby, near Carlisle and Wigton – covered a distance of around two or three miles.
“The defendant was formally interviewed on December 6 and asked about what had gone on,” said Mr Kelly.
“He said he’d been driving for about two years and was dropping friends off at Crosby-on-Eden.”
The defendant said he pulled over to let the ambulance past but then his friends encouraged him to follow it, which he did.
He estimated his speed at between 50mph and 60mph.
When asked to comment on his own driving that day, the defendant – a man of previous good character – replied described it as “inconsiderate” and said he realised he should not have done it.
“He was effectively being egged on by his friends to drive in that manner,” said defence lawyer Sean Harkin.
“He bitterly regrets giving in to that peer pressure.
“He does not use that as an excuse and accepts he made an error of judgement and he apologises to the court – and particularly to the emergency service workers who were on duty that day.
“He expressed remorse at an early stage.”
Mr Harkin added Ogilvie now realised the people he was with that day were not true friends and were associating with him because he had a car. He’s effectively cut ties with those friends.”
During the last two years, the defendant – who would now lose his job as a delivery driver – had driven legally, not acquiring so much as a speeding ticket, said the lawyer.
The presiding magistrate told Ogilvie his driving was aggressive, and the offence was committed intentionally.
The bench imposed 200 hours of unpaid work, with £300 court costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
Magistrates also banned Ogilvie from driving for a year, and stipulated that he must take and extended retest before he can drive unaccompanied again.