Uruguayan tourist brings chaos to roads of Edinburgh city centre

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A Uruguayan tourist, who had never driven on the left-hand side of the road before, brought chaos to the centre of Edinburgh on Sunday.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday, 55-year old Leon Friedmann pled guilty to a charge of dangerous driving.

The man appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Pic: TSPL/Google Maps

The man appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Pic: TSPL/Google Maps

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Fiscal Depute, Rosie Cook, told Sheriff Adrian Cottam that around 12:40pm on Sunday afternoon a white Jaguar car, being driven by the accused, scraped along the length of the offside of a taxi in East Market Street.

The taxi driver followed the Jag as it went up The Mound and turned down into Princes Street. The Jaguar went over to the opposite side of the road and drove facing heavy oncoming traffic.

Ms Cook said several vehicles had to brake to avoid a collision.The car then made a right-hand turn into George Street, where a car had to avoid colliding with it, went back onto Princes Street from South St David Street, across Princes Street and sped down Waverley Bridge, where it struck another taxi parked in a rank.

The Jag then turned into Market Street and came to a halt half way onto the kerb. Both taxis boxed it in and contacted the police.

Ms Cook said Friedmann told the officers: "I am sorry if I did not behave accordingly".

Defence solicitor, Charles Morrison, said his client, a tourist, had been staying with his wife in the Caledonian Hotel and had just hired the car. He had never driven in the UK before on the left-hand side of the road.

Mr Morrison said that Friedmann had been stationary behind the first taxi, but other cars had driven past. When he scraped along the side of the taxi, he had told the driver it was hired car and it would be insured. "The taxi driver was not very pleased" said Mr Morrison.

Mr Morrison's client, who was not familiar with Edinburgh, had driven onto Princes Street onto the wrong side of the road and became scared and panicking. Friedmann, he added, was leaving to go to Spain in two days time, but was well placed to pay any financial penalty.

Sheriff Cottam told Friedmann he would give him some allowance for his unfamiliarity with the roads in Scotland, but his driving had been "way beyond careless". He fined him £670 and banned him from driving in the UK for 12 months. Friedmann was given 48 hours to pay the fine.