A SIX-TONNE dumper truck with a top speed of 12mph is not the obvious choice for a late-night joyride. But when Joseph Kelly stumbled upon one with the keys still in the engine, it seemed like the ideal way to get home.
The learner driver climbed on board the truck at a building site in Coates Crescent, Edinburgh, and set off on the 30-mile journey to his home in Stirling.
He trundled through the city and across the Forth Road Bridge, and was spotted veering erratically across the M90.
Early-morning motorists contacted police to report a slow-moving vehicle weaving its way along the motorway.
Kelly was eventually stopped by officers 20 miles into his journey, having made it more than halfway home. He was found to be more than twice over the drink-drive limit.
At Perth Sheriff Court yesterday, Sheriff William Wood told Kelly he took a “very dim” view of his escapade, which he described as a “potentially very serious incident”.
“It is more by luck than judgment that a serious accident did not occur. You were driving a dumper truck without a licence. You were over twice the legal limit,” he said.
Kelly, 25, from Princes Street, Stirling, admitted drink-driving the Benford Front Dumper on the A977 Kinross to Kincardine Bridge road, close to Kinross, and on various other roads, on 4 July this year.
Kelly, who went into the building site in Coates Crescent to get the truck, also pleaded guilty to driving with a provisional licence and no insurance.
John Malpass, prosecuting, told the court: “At 7:30am, police were contacted in relation to a vehicle being driven erratically on the M90 motorway heading north. Officers from Kinross attended and searched for the vehicle. They observed it on Station Road in Kinross and stopped it.
“They spoke to the accused and during that they detected a strong smell of alcohol from his breath. It was a dumper truck he was driving.
“It’s a white and blue, six-tonne, Benford-make dumper truck. It has a large dumper shovel on the front and a cabin at the rear. It is a hire vehicle. It is for use on and around a building site and is not really designed for use on the roads.”
Solicitor Frazer McCready, defending, said: “There is very little I can add by way of mitigation. He has never held a full driving licence. He has never sat and passed his test. It was not his vehicle and was not covered by any insurance policy.
“He came into possession of the vehicle when he had been out drinking.
“It was his intention to get home in the vehicle to Stirling, where he had received a call to say one of his children was not particularly well.
“He thought it was a good idea at the time to attempt to go home to Stirling in this vehicle and that is why he was driving it.
“He had been visiting his brother in Edinburgh and had been drinking heavily. He had fallen out with his brother, and round about the same time had received the telephone call.”
Sheriff Wood told Kelly: “This was potentially an extremely dangerous situation and one for which you have to take responsibility. The fact you were driving a vehicle you weren’t qualified to drive was very dangerous and a matter for considerable concern.”
Sheriff Wood said the public had to be protected from Kelly’s behaviour, and he disqualified him from driving for 27 months. He was also given a community payback order and told to complete 210 hours unpaid work.