A MAN stole a bin lorry from a council depot and led cops on a midnight chase for more than 30 miles, trying to ram cop cars with the refuse truck and hitting a bridge, a court heard today.
David Russell, 25, pinched the lorry from the Stirling Council compound at Fallin, Stirlingshire, where it had been left overnight with the keys in the ignition.
Russell, who only has a provisional licence, led police on a chase for miles through the Stirlingshire countryside and pulled over twice - only to slam the lorry into the reverse and try to ram police cars.
Prosecutor Ann Orr told Stirling Sheriff Court that the lorry was first spotted by a motorist at 2am on June 7 being driven erratically on Cowane Street, in the centre of Stirling.
The depute fiscal said: “It was continuously swerving across the roadway to the opposite side of the road.
“The driver who noticed this was concerned and began to follow the truck and saw it swerve and hit several motor vehicles parked in a layby on the street.
“He called the police and continued to follow the lorry.”
She said Russell drove out of the city onto the A811 - the single-carriageway main road to Dumbarton - and a police patrol car with flashing blue lights began tailing him but he ignored them and continued his crash course, swerving back and forth between the sides of the carriageway, going on to the verge, and colliding with hedges.
Mrs Orr added: “He narrowly avoided going completely off the road. On one occasion he went into a ditch causing the truck to tilt to such a degree that officers thought it was going to tip over, but the accused managed to steer it back out on to the carriageway.”
She said Russell pulled over twice, the first time he simply drove off again but the second time when police got out and came towards the lorry he suddenly began reversing toward their cars.
Ms Orr told the court: “Officers had to take evasive action. One of the officers believed the driver was going to ram the police vehicles. He smashed a window on the driver’s side of the truck with his baton but he couldn’t gain entry to the cab.”
Russell set off again, driving at between 10 and 40mph and braking erratically, heading through Arnprior and Buchlyvie before turning onto the A875 towards Balfron where he took a bend on the wrong side of the road, forcing a taxi driver to swerve to avoid a head-on crash.
Officers called in support from the Glasgow Road Policing Unit who set out equipped with Stingers and stop sticks aimed at halting the runaway lorry.
The court heard Russell drove through Killearn and turned off on to a narrow single track road before attempting to rejoin the A81 when he hit a bridge barrier and punctured his rear tyre.
He continued to drive before eventually being caught by the police.
Russell, of Quakerfield, Bannockburn, pleaded guilty to stealing a refuse collection truck from Lower Polmassie Compound, Fallin, Stirling, on June 7, and driving dangerously on Cowane Street, the A875, the A811 and roads in between.
He also admitted driving without an adequate licence or insurance.
Russell is also facing sentence for assaulting his wife Alison at his former home at Station Road, Buchlyne, by pushing her, and causing her to hit her head on a radiator to her injury on May 19.
He was on bail for that offence when the bin lorry incident occurred.
His lawyer, Harry Couchlan, tried to persuade Sheriff William Gilchrist to bail him again but the sheriff refused, and he was remanded in custody.
The sheriff told Russell: “The incident which I dealt with back in May was a troubling one. The actual assault may not have been the most serious but the circumstances were troubling.
“You were bailed and now you have admitted these offences which are equally troubling.”
Russell’s wife Alison told Russell “keep your chin up” as he was handcuffed to a security guard and led to the cells.
Sheriff Gilchrist remanded Russell in custody and adjourned sentence to July 23 for a psychiatric report.