Motorist bit police officer ‘to get his attention’

Perth Sheriff Court. Pic Ian Rutherford
Perth Sheriff Court. Pic Ian Rutherford
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A DRIVER who had smoked cannabis crawled along the fast lane of a dual carriageway at 30mph before biting a police officer after being arrested.

IT consultant Alan Lewthwaite weaved across the A90 after passers-by stopped to help him replace a punctured tyre and noted a strong smell of cannabis.

But a sheriff today told Lewthwaite, 30, he was being treated leniently because he was suffering from a pulmonary embolism at the time.

Lewthwaite, from Lochend Park View, Edinburgh, had claimed he had taken cannabis to tackle his symptoms when he felt unwell and had been driving home from a concert in Dundee.

His solicitor John Adams told Perth Sheriff Court that he was still feeling ill a few days later and was diagnosed as having a pulmonary embolism, associated with a blood clot.

Sheriff Eric Brown said: “The circumstances are somewhat unusual in that I have been advised you were unwell and that has been subsequently confirmed as you required treatment for pulmonary embolism.

“No doubt taking cannabis didn’t do much to improve that. But in a situation where you were clearly unwell, though not aware of it, I will deal with it more leniently.”

After being told Lewthwaite bit the police sergeant to “draw his attention” to the fact he was not feeling well, Sheriff Brown limited his fine to £430. He also imposed the minimum mandatory 12 month driving ban.

Lewthwaite admitted driving while under the influence of drugs on the A90 Dundee to Perth road, and attacking Sergeant Barry McIntosh by biting his arm to his injury on 18 October last year.

Fiscal depute Tina Dickie said: “Witnesses observed a male at the side of the road in need of assistance. He was having trouble changing a tyre.

“It was noted he was smelling strongly of cannabis and was unsteady on his feet. The tyre was changed and the accused drove off. They saw him drive across both lanes and drive at 30 miles per hour in the outside lane.

“The police were called and they observed the accused swerving across the inside lane and driving very slowly. They activated blue lights and stopped the accused.

“A strong smell of cannabis was detected, his speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet, but provided a negative roadside alcohol test.

“He was taken to police HQ and his behaviour deteriorated. He became verbally abusive and aggressive. During attempts by three officers to relocate him he bit the officer on the forearm. He had a bite mark.”

Solicitor John Adams, defending, said: “He travelled to Dundee for a concert and began to feel unwell. He got cannabis from a friend and this was supposed to take the pain away.

“He then returned to Edinburgh and had a puncture. His health problems were significant and the following Monday he was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism.

“The assault happened as a result of being unwell in custody. He felt he had made it clear to police about his condition but was not getting assistance.

“He does accept he did this to try and get the attention of the police sergeant.”