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Court shown CCTV footage of driver who fitted his car with flashing blue lights in bid to beat traffic jams almost hitting cyclist

Martin Chapman initially told police he was delivering blood for NHS Blood Donation Service

A court has heard how a motorist who forced a cyclist to take evasive action as he drove on the wrong side of the road in a car fitted with flashing blue lights in a bid to beat traffic jams.

Footage of the incident captured by CCTV cameras on Cliftonville Road, Northampton, last July was shown at Martin Chapman’s trial at Northampton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, reports the Daily Mail.

PC Ben Wilson of Northamptonshire Police told the court: “You can see the cyclist riding close to the solid white road markings and then clearly see his Astra come at speed with hardly any room for the cyclist to go anywhere.

“He [Chapman] goes through the junction the wrong side of the road. He approached the junction at such speed that he didn't give the cyclist a chance to move or the oncoming traffic to move.”

Chapman, aged 35, initially told police that he was delivering blood for the NHS Blood Donation Service.

He had been filmed using the lights, fitted to his Vauxhall Astra, on 38 separate occasions. However, he had no training to drive with them, nor was he using them for a genuine emergency.

Defending himself in court, he admitted five counts of using a vehicle fitted with a blue warning beacon without permission, and was also found guilty of dangerous driving, three counts of not following road markings, and five counts of driving while uninsured.

He told the court: “I accept it was me driving on each occasion. I am very remorseful of what I did and I appeal for your leniency.”

Shabbir Issat, prosecuting, said Chapman, from Long Buckby, was caught after another motorist spotted him using the lights.

“The member of the public said that it didn't seem right that the blue lights were flashing which is why they phoned the police,” he said.

“There is CCTV from July 6 where he is coming towards some lights and there are two lanes going one way and one lane going the other.

“There was a cyclist who had to take evasive action after Mr Chapman drove on the wrong side of the road.”

Jackie Shore, who chaired the magistrates trying the case, said that the dangerous driving offence was so serious the court had no power to sentence him, with the case referred to Northampton Crown Court for sentencing on 10 February.

Chapman was given an interim driving ban and told to pay £770 in costs.

Following today’s hearing, Janine Smith, chief crown prosecutor for CPS East Midlands said: “The rules of the road exist to protect people and keep everyone safe.

“Martin Chapman's possession of the blue light was a significant responsibility, which he abused on several occasions, putting other road users at risk.

“People who drive emergency vehicles with blue lights are specialists who have been specifically trained to drive in genuine emergencies conditions while ensuring the use of the blue lights and their speed is appropriate for the conditions.

She added: “It is not something that can be taken lightly. It is down to good fortune alone that nobody was hurt as a result of Mr Chapman's driving.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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