No jail for woman who drove from court after ban

Carina Russell got into her car and drove off minutes after being banned for a year. Picture: Vic Rodrick
Carina Russell got into her car and drove off minutes after being banned for a year. Picture: Vic Rodrick
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A woman who drove her car minutes after being disqualified was “foolish beyond belief,” a court was told yesterday.

Carina Russell got back behind the wheel outside Livingston Sheriff Court after being fined and banned for drink driving.

She claimed she “panicked” because a newspaper photographer took her picture as she got into to her Audi in the car park outside Livingston Police Station before parking the car and waited for her mum to come and take her home to Blackridge, West Lothian.

The 25-year-old appeared for sentence yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to driving while disqualified and without insurance on Wednesday, March 11.

However, the brazen blonde escaped a prison sentence when she appeared shamefaced in the same dock at court yesterday.

Instead she was disqualified from driving for 18-months and ordered to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work under a community payback order.

Passing sentence, Sheriff David Hall told her: “This was an extremely foolish piece of behaviour.

“If you had a previous conviction for driving while disqualified you’d be going into custody without a shadow of a doubt. Fortunately for you, you don’t.”

He added: “If you don’t carry out the order successfully you could be brought back to court and you’ll be sentenced afresh, and it will be recorded in the court papers today that this is an alternative to a custodial sentence.”

Alisdair Macleod, prosecuting, said witnesses had seen Russell unlock her car and put the keys in the ignition when she left court moments after being banned from driving.

He said: “The accused became aware she was being watched, shut the car door and walked off.

“When one of the witnesses re-entered the court building the accused was seen to run back to her vehicle and drive northwards.

“The vehicle was ultimately traced by police outside the accused’s address and she was arrested and charged.”

Darryl Lovie, defending, admitted: “This was foolish beyond belief. Obviously having been disqualified for drink driving she had made arrangements to have the vehicle transported home by her mother.

“When she’d been disqualified and left the court, the court reporter was photographing her for the purposes of a newspaper report and my client panicked because she didn’t want to be photographed.

“She walked to the car, she opened the car, she walked away from the car, she wasn’t sure what to do.

“But then (she) made a snap and very foolish judgment to get in the driver’s seat and she drove around the corner to the bowling club car park.

“There, she made contact with her mother and the vehicle was uplifted shortly thereafter.”

He added: “This wasn’t in my submission premeditated or planned, although it remains a serious matter given the short time between the disqualification and the driving.

“I have to say in terms of her attitude to her own behaviour she has at least demonstrated what appears to be genuine contrition, regret and remorse.

“I get the impression that she’s learned a lesson here.”