Former police officer's ban for running red light lifted
Natasha Watt crashed as she responded to an emergency call in Aberdeen.
A former police officer who crashed when she ran a red light responding to a distress call has had a driving ban overturned.
Natasha Watt was given a 12-month disqualification after she admitted dangerous driving at Aberdeen Sheriff Court following the collision with two other vehicles.
Appeal sheriffs have quashed the ban, however, and instead given her five penalty points on her licence.
Ms Watt, 23, from Aberdeenshire, was driving a police vehicle responding to an emergency report when she and a colleague received a distress call during which she heard an officer scream.
Her counsel told the Sheriff Appeal Court in Edinburgh that Watt had approached a junction in Aberdeen at about 15mph on Clifton Road and slowed to 10mph as she went through a red light in November 2014.
She had activated flashing blue lights but not the siren on the vehicle.
The counsel maintained Ms Watt was at the centre of an urgent situation and it was reasonable to infer she must have feared for the safety of a colleague.
She argued that the sheriff who disqualified her had erred in rejecting the argument that special reasons existed why she should not be given the mandatory minimum 12-month ban.
Sheriff principal Craig Scott QC said in a judgment published on Friday: "We have reached the conclusion that the sheriff's approach to the matter cannot be supported.
"For our part, we are satisfied that the appellant would probably not have entered the junction in the face of a red light were it not for the emergency nature of the mission she was undertaking.
"In other words, the extenuating circumstances generated by the emergency were, to our mind, unquestionably connected to the commission of the offence.
"Whilst the appellant did indeed plead guilty to a charge of driving dangerously, it was a momentary failing on the part of the appellant which created that offence.
"It may have been unfortunate that the appellant overlooked to activate the vehicle's siren but in driving as she did she had in mind the safety of other road users, she activated the vehicle's blue lights and significantly reduced the speed of the vehicle.
"Against that background, it is, in our opinion, eminently open to this court to determine that special reasons ought to have been held established by the sheriff," the sheriff principal concluded.