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.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.