I mistook police for thugs, claims driver

Lanark High Street
Lanark High Street

A driver has been spared jail despite forcing two police officers trying to stop him speeding along Lanark High Street to leap out of his way to escape injury.

At the town’s Sheriff Court last Thursday, Mark Shaw, 26, of Woodside Street, Carstairs, claimed he panicked after mistaking the uniformed officers for members of a gang of thugs who had previously attacked him.

At an earlier hearing, Shaw had pleaded guilty to driving at excessive speed on the street on the evening of October 21 last year.

The two officers had heard Shaw’s revving engine and then saw him driving up High Street at above the speed limit of 30mph.

When the officers stepped into the roadway to flag him down, Shaw initially slowed down but then sped up. Both officers had to leap out of his path to avoid being run down.

He then raced off in the direction of Carstairs. The officers got in their patrol car to give chase, but Shaw was going too fast for them to catch up.

They had, however, noted his licence plate number and, using the police computer system, traced his details, including his home address.

In the meantime, they put out an alert to fellow officers to be onthe lookout for Shaw.

The officers then went to Shaw’s home address and found him there.

When cautioned and charged, he replied: “I never drove at you. I went round you. I just panicked.”

Appearing for sentence, Shaw claimed through his solicitor, Nigel Scullion, that the incident had arisen out of a case of mistaken identity.

The solicitor told the court: “His panic stemmed from an event about a week before when he was driving down the High Street and his car was attacked and people tried to get in it, and he thought this was a repeat of that incident.

“He was driving on that street again and saw people in dark clothing trying to stop him. It was, remember, October, and it was dark at that time of night.”

Mr Scullion went on to explain that a friend of Shaw’s had fallen foul of the aforesaid gang, and they had taken it out on Shaw in the previous incident on the High Street.

He appealed to sheriff Mhairi McTaggart not to jail his client, although he admitted that Shaw had previous driving offences.

The sheriff said she would impose a set of non-custodial orders, any of which, if breached by Shaw, would lead to his imprisonment.

She banned him from driving for 27 months, and he was ordered to carry out 216 hours of unpaid work and serve a three-month 7pm-to-7am home curfew order.