AN A* student who drove the wrong way down the A419 after a ketamine binge was described as a lethal weapon by a Swindon judge.
Daniel Parrott, who is due to start a maths degree at the University of Bristol this month, was on his way home with a friend from a rave in Marlborough at around 5am on March 10 when he cleared his nose and dislodged a crumb of ketamine from his nasal cavity.
Trying to get off the A419 home to Cheltenham, the 19-year-old found himself back on the main road – driving the wrong way towards Swindon.
Swindon Crown Court heard drivers were fearful of a head-on collision, while police officers had arranged their cars across the two lanes in a rolling road block.
Sentencing Parrott to six months imprisonment suspended for a year, Recorder Richard Shepherd said the teen had displayed a rank arrogance by driving while under the influence.
“You were nowhere near a fit state to drive. Nevertheless, you jumped in your vehicle, a Hyundai, almost a tonne of metal, and you drove it down the wrong way of a dual carriageway,” he said.
“During that period you were a lethal weapon.”
He banned Parrott from driving for 12 months and ordered the teenager to complete 300 hours of unpaid work.
He said: “I want to hear you are the person who is always early to these appointments. I want to hear you are the person who works longest and hardest for each and every one of those unpaid work hours.”
Prosecuting, James Tucker said police officers described Parrott as incoherent and unable to stand when he eventually came to a halt around five miles from where his car was originally reported driving the wrong way down the A419. His first words to traffic officers was: “What’s wrong?”
Later interviewed by police he claimed to have known he was driving the wrong way and was trying to find somewhere to stop or turn around. He said he had been awake for at least 24 hours and had sniffed around a gram of ketamine at a Wiltshire rave.
Mr Tucker told the court: “He said he waited until he felt sober enough or unaffected enough to drive back to Cheltenham.”
That sobering-up process would typically take two to three hours, he claimed.
“At some point in the journey he had cleared his nose, which led him to effectively dislodge some ketamine in his nose which further intoxicated him,” Mr Tucker added. The teen had agreed the standard of his driving fell below that of a competent and careful driver.
Parrott, of Andersford, near Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and driving whilst unfit through drugs.
Alistair Haggerty, defending, said his client was remorseful and had owned up to his crimes at the earliest opportunity at both the police station and the magistrates’ court.
Parrott was a first-class student, with three A* grades at A-level and a place at the University of Bristol. Glowing references from his parents and friends had been presented to the court.
“He’s a young man with considerable potential and a very bright future ahead of him potentially,” Mr Haggerty said.
“He knows all of this is in jeopardy today because of a very stupid decision he made. He knows he should never have got wheel of the car and the peril that’s put him in.”
Parrott’s talent was recognised by a still unimpressed Recorder Shepherd: “I have read some excellent reference letter on your behalf, but they are only reference letters. They weren’t approaching your headlights on the wrong side. They weren’t the passenger you put in jeopardy.”