Road ban farmer’s spilled potato harvest blocked busy road, court is told

A FARM worker who was serving a road ban when crashed a tractor and spilled a trailer full of potatoes over one of Scotland’s busiest roads has escaped a jail sentence.

By Alexander Lawrie
Friday, 16th October 2020, 5:11 pm
Spilled spuds caused a traffic mash-up
Spilled spuds caused a traffic mash-up

Steven Cull lost control of the huge load of spuds when his tractor and trailer keeled over on the A1 near Dunbar in East Lothian last month – sparking traffic mayhem and tailbacks at the busy junction.

Hundreds of potatoes scattered over the dual carriageway causing rush hour chaos and police traffic officers were forced to close the road for three hours for a clean up to take place.

Last month, Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard that Cull, 22, was already banned from driving when he crashed the tractor while working during the annual potato harvest at a nearby farm.

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Steven Cull, banned driver who spilled his potatoes

The labourer, who has since been sacked by his employer, was jailed last year for driving a car while disqualified but escaped a further prison sentence when he appeared back before a sheriff.

Sheriff Adrian Cottam told Cull he had committed “a silly mistake” by agreeing to move the potato load from one field to another and imposed a community payback order instead of a potential custodial sentence for the serious motoring offence.

Cull, from Dunbar, was placed on a 12 month supervision requirement and ordered to carry out 70 hours of unpaid work in the community.

He was also handed an 18 month driving ban.

Sheriff Cottam added: “Whilst you cannot drive while disqualified this is slightly different than you willingly ignoring everything and driving through the town or whatever.

“So I am just persuaded because of that to give you a chance to show that was a silly mistake as opposed to wanton behaviour.”

Previously the court heard several members of the public phoned the police to inform them of the potato spillage on the A1 at around 7.40am on September 16 and summon their help to hold up traffic at the scene.

Fiscal Clare Kennedy said: “Officers attended and by that time the carriageway had been partially cleared and the tractor trailer Mr Cull was driving was overturned.

“It was confirmed that Mr Cull had been driving the tractor at the time and that he was disqualified.”

Solicitor Mark Hutchison, defending, said his client had started work at the East Lothian farm in order to afford birthday presents for his son because he needed to make a living and earn fund to pay for his youngster’s gifts.

The lawyer added that Cull had only agreed to drive the tractor as he “didn’t want to tell his employers that he was banned as he didn’t want to lose the job”.

Following the spillage a Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police were called to reports of a one vehicle crash involving a tractor around 7.40am on Wednesday, 16 September on the A1 near Dunglas Bridge in Dunbar.

“The road is currently closed southbound at the Thistleycross roundabout.”

Cull pleaded guilty to driving a tractor while disqualified from driving on the A1 near Dunbar, East Lothian, on September 16 this year.

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