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Police officer ploughs patrol car into traffic lights

PC Mark Chance caused £3000 of damage while overtaking a colleague in front of Perth police station.

An officer caused thousands of pounds worth of damage by smashing his patrol car into a set of traffic lights in front of a police station.

PC Mark Chance took out the set of lights while overtaking a cyclist - who happened to be one of his colleagues pulling out of the station car park.

The local authority was left with a £3000 bill for the destroyed lights and a temporary set had to be erected because of the damage.

Chance, 25, also caused significant damage to the police Peugeot 308 he was driving on duty in an incident captured by Police Scotland's own CCTV system.

A police spokesperson said: "We are aware of the outcome of the case and a report will be made to Deputy Chief Constable for People and Professionalism Fiona Taylor for consideration of misconduct proceedings."

They declined to confirm the cost of damage to the police car.

The CCTV footage of Chance driving straight into the traffic lights was shown at Perth Sheriff Court on Friday.

Chance, who was allowed to have the case heard without him appearing personally, admitted driving carelessly in Perth's Barrack Street on May 1 this year.

He admitted driving into the middle of the road to overtake fellow officer Greig Farmer, who was on a bike cycling home from work.

'It's like the Titanic sailing inexorably towards the iceberg. I can't explain it any better than that.'
Solicitor Gary McIlravey

Chance admitted failing to take the pedestrian crossing and road markings into account before colliding with the lights and damaging them and the police car.

Fiscal depute Mairi Graham told the court: "This occurred in Barrack Street, approximately 50m from the Perth police office.

"The point of impact is the pedestrian traffic lights. It had been raining for much of the evening and the surface was wet.

"CCTV captures the incident and it pretty much speaks for itself. The damage to the lights was estimated to be approximately £3000 by Perth and Kinross Council's traffic department."

Solicitor Gary McIlravey, defending, said: "It's like the Titanic sailing inexorably towards the iceberg. I can't explain it any better than that.

"He is a serving police officer with three years service. Up to now he has had a spotless record, a clean licence and no previous convictions.

"He spotted the cyclist and the intention was to overtake and give plenty of room. His focus was on the primary hazard - the cyclist - and for some reason he did not see the oncoming hazard.

"Even police officers can make mistakes. It has not affected his career. He has undertaken a driving refresher course and been given certain re-training by the police.

"Mr Chance is understandably rather embarrassed by this and wants to deal with it as quickly as possible. He is aware points on his licence are inevitable."

'It is arguably at the higher end of the range of careless driving, with it being a lit traffic light.'
Sheriff William Wood

Sheriff William Wood told Chance: "It is arguably at the higher end of the range of careless driving, with it being a lit traffic light.

"I take into account the accused's employment in the public service, his previous good character and clean driving licence, and will deal with it without disqualifying him."

He imposed six penalty points and gave Chance 12 months to pay off a £600 fine.

Last year, the same court heard how PC Chance and a colleague turned up to deal with a suspected robbery - and ended up being locked in the gunman's home as he fled.

Robert Lambert, 62, lured the officers to his flat with a bogus robbery claim and then pulled a weapon and cornered them at gunpoint.

They fled into Lambert's flat and locked themselves in as they feared they were about to be shot in the common close of the Perth city centre flat.

Fiscal depute Vicki Bell said: "He was holding a firearm in both hands with his arms extended and raised to shoulder height. He was pointing the firearm directly at them.

"The firearm had the appearance of a handgun. Believing the firearm to be real the officers sought refuge within the home address of the accused, closed the door and locked it."

A senior police source said: "Mark has only been in the force for about three years and has not exactly made what you would call an illustrious start.

"There was speculation he was shouting to his colleague on the bike because he recognised him as he was going past and that's what distracted him.

"However, he wasn't charged specifically with anything like that, so that must not have been the case. It's hard to know how to explain it."

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