Crash test dummy! Passenger who can’t drive causes £20,000 worth of damage to friend’s car trying to avoid traffic warden
A man who can’t drive attempted to move his mate’s car when he saw a traffic warden – writing it off and smashing into three others causing £20,000 of damage, a court heard.
Hapless Karl Maskill, 22, was asked to look after the Volvo 4×4 while his friend, Lee Kirtley, 23, popped in to the Post Office.
But Karl – who had only ever driven a dune buggy – panicked when he saw a traffic warden walking towards the car.
He attempted to move the vehicle but lost control and smashed into three parked cars – causing more than #20,000 of damage.
Lee returned to the scene to find his car written off and three other vehicles with extensive damage to their wheels, doors and bumpers.
Karl, of Sunderland, has now been found guilty of several driving offences – but both men remain friends and are able to laugh about the incident.
Speaking outside court, Maskill, who can’t drive despite working on the production line for Nissan, apologised for his crash course in driving.
He said: “Lee just popped into the post office and there was a traffic warden so I just took it upon myself to move around the corner.
“I have got no experience of driving at all. I just wanted to save him from getting a ticket. I had the best of intentions but did not really think.
“It was a big Jeep and it was a tight corner with cars parked either side. I scrapped the first one and then totally lost control and hit another two.
“I was mostly concerned about Lee and whether it would cost him his job.
“I could not stop apologising. I could not believe what I had done. I should have left the car there – it was a daft decision and one that I massively regret.
“He is still one of my very best friends and he knows it was an honest mistake.
“Fortunately the insurance covered it and he was able to keep his job. He took it pretty well considering.
“We can have a little laugh about it now. But I hope we can put it behind us.”
Maskill, from Southwick, Sunderland, admitted taking a vehicle without consent, which was aggravated by the damage caused, along with driving without insurance and otherwise than in accordance with a licence.
He was handed a 12-month community order, with 100 hours of unpaid work, banned from driving for a year and told to pay #500 in compensation by Sunderland Magistrates.
Prosecuting, Lee Poppett, told Sunderland Magistrates’: “Mr Maskill sees a traffic warden approach his friend’s vehicle and has taken it upon himself to move it round the corner.
“Unfortunately, he did not have his friends permission, a driving licence or insurance. He takes it round the corner.
“On negotiating the junction, he lost control and collided with a vehicle. He has then driven down Laws Street and collided with a further two vehicles.
“He said he decided to move the car in case his friend got a ticket. He drove round the block and he lost control.
“He said he had no type of drivers licence and no insurance, but that he had driven an automatic dune buggy before.”
Lee Kirtley, who works for a company constructing wind farms, said that there were no hard feelings over the accident.
He: “I was running errands on my day off and left the keys in my car so Karl could listen to the radio. The engine was turned off.
“I just did not think too much about it but got a phone call from Karl while I was in the post office to say he had crashed the car.
“He has been my best mate since I was three so I thought he was just taking the mick and I was laughing with the woman behind the counter about it.
“But I then walked out and my car was not there. I looked behind and there was a scene of total carnage.
“There was Karl with his head in his hands and I walked over like a zombie. I didn’t say anything – I was in a state of shock.
“I just told him he was an idiot and it took a while to sink in.
“It is just one of those things. We are both daft lads – and he did not mean to crash. It just so happened his daft actions caused quite a lot of damage.
“We have not fallen out. We all do daft things – and he has paid for this by having to go to court. He is a nice lad, he just did a daft thing.
“In hindsight I would have rather just got the parking ticket.”
During the incident the Volvo was written off and a Peugeot Partner van suffered damage along the length of the vehicle.
A Vauxhall Corsa was also damaged along the side and a second Peugeot Partner van required its owner to pay a £500 excess to claim on his insurance.