Edinburgh crime: Humanist celebrant caught driving on A1 using mobile phone escapes driving ban

Humanist celebrant escapes driving ban after being caught on mobile phone while driving on A1

A humanist celebrant who was caught using her mobile phone while driving on one of Scotland’s busiest roads has escaped a road ban.

Annalese McDermott, 44, was spotted weaving between lanes by police officers while using her mobile device on the A1 near Haddington in East Lothian in January this year. McDermott - who used to own one of Scotland’s top model agencies - was pulled over by the road cops and claimed she was using her phone to refresh Sat Nav directions.

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Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told McDermott, from Granton, Edinburgh, already has three points on her driving licence and a ban would impact heavily on her ability to carry on working. The celebrant failed to appear in person at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Wednesday but lawyer David Allan lodged a guilty plea to a careless driving charge on her behalf.

Annalese McDermott

Prosecutor Chelsea Martin told the court police officers were travelling along the A1 when they spotted McDermott driving erratically by moving from lane to lane at around 4pm on January 3 this year. Ms Martin said: “Officers pulled alongside her vehicle and saw the accused with a mobile phone.”

Mr Allan, defending, said his client was married with two children and has worked full time as a humanist celebrant for the past 10 years. Mr Allan said McDermott uses her vehicle to travel all over Scotland and last year presided over around 50 engagements including weddings and funerals.

The brief added: “The position here is that her licence is important to her employment. As far as the offence is concerned she was working in Haddington and had come off at the Oak Tree junction onto the A1 and had set her Sat Nav on her mobile phone before she had left. She got onto the A1 and was refreshing it on her mobile phone and she strayed into the second lane as described by the police. Fortunately the road was not busy and was light of traffic. It appears no other vehicles were impacted on.”

Sheriff Adrian Fraser acknowledged McDermott has three points on her licence and sentenced her to a further six points and to pay a fine of £420. Sheriff Fraser said: “It is the use of a mobile phone that concerns me [but] I am not minded to disqualify her outright. She will now have a total of nine penalty points on her licence so she is sailing very close to the wind going forward and she will have to be aware of that.”

McDermott is a yoga instructor and owned and ran Stolen, one of Scotland’s top model agencies, before selling up in 2010 and retraining to become a celebrant. A humanist celebrant provides an alternative to religious ceremonies for people wishing to celebrate or commemorate life events including weddings and funerals in a non-religious way.

McDermott pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and did drive while holding a mobile phone on the A1 in East Lothian on January 3 this year.