Death crash driver now behind wheel for Scottish Ambulance Service

A man convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and banned from the roads for four years is now driving ambulances as part of his job with the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Drew Dodd at his work as an ambulance driver. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Drew Dodd was sentenced to two and a half years in a young offender institution after causing the death of Craig Garland after driving his Vauxhall Corsa SRi at speeds approaching 100mph down a single-track road and losing control on the blind crest of a hill.

Dodd had passed his test only two months before the crash on the B6354 at Allerdean near Berwick-upon-Tweed in January 2007, in which 16-year-old passenger Craig died after being flung through the windscreen.

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Dodd denied causing Craig’s death by dangerous driving but was found guilty by an 11-to-one majority after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court in March 2008.

Dodd appealed his jail sentence, which was cut by the Appeal Court in London to two years from the original two-and-a-half years and his driving ban was reduced to four years instead of five.

The 27-year-old, who is believed to be studying to become a paramedic, applied for a job as an ambulance technician with the Scottish Ambulance Service last year, having previously worked with the North East Ambulance Service, and is stationed at Haddington, East Lothian.

A key part of Dodd’s job is driving the ambulance at high speed with blue lights on as he responds to emergencies.

He told Scotland on Sunday: “All I want to say is that I’ve been completely open and up-front with everyone. I started about a year and a half ago with the Scottish Ambulance Service and this is the best job in the world.

“I was a first responder for years and that’s led to my job with the Scottish Ambulance Service. I had to go through a lot of rigmarole to get the job and obviously it’s not the kind of job that just anyone can walk into. I’ve never been anything but honest, but I’m sure people will say ‘this guy shouldn’t be doing this job’. I do the job because I want to help people.”

He added: “It’s my reputation ruined here, regardless of what comes out. It’s quite obvious that I regret it – I do. It’s something I obviously won’t forget, but I’ve not hid anything.

“I’d hate to think this would remove people’s faith in the ambulance service, which is ultimately what it will do.”

Last night Craig’s mother, Fiona O’Hara, said: “I’m surprised that someone with a death by dangerous driving conviction is allowed to do this kind of work. It’s coming up to Craig’s ten-year anniversary and it doesn’t get any easier but he lives in my heart every single day.”

Dodd disclosed his spent conviction to the Scottish Ambulance Service.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “All relevant staff apply for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme. If there are any areas of concern on the information received, the service undertakes a full risk assessment. This process was followed for this member of staff.”

However, Margaret Watt of the Scotland Patients’ Association said: “It’s a big chance for the Scottish Ambulance Service to take and it’s not a good thing for him to be driving an ambulance that will have patients in it.”