Pet emergency plea pensioner escapes prison

A PENSIONER who got behind the wheel on Christmas Eve to make an emergency dog food purchase escaped a possible jail sentence on Monday. Instead, David Bruce was ordered by Huntingdon magistrates to do unpaid work in the community. The part-time gamekeep

A PENSIONER who got behind the wheel on Christmas Eve to make an emergency dog food purchase escaped a possible jail sentence on Monday.

Instead, David Bruce was ordered by Huntingdon magistrates to do unpaid work in the community.

The part-time gamekeeper was spotted by an off-duty police sergeant, who recognised the 68-year-old as a disqualified driver, at the Co-op store in Brampton. The officer called a colleague and watched the vehicle, until Bruce returned and drove home to Keeper's Cottage, Grafham Road, in Brampton, according to prosecutor Tracy Billingham.

Bruce, who had been banned for driving for three years in April 2001 for a drink-driving offence, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing last month to driving while disqualified and without insurance. Magistrates told him then they were considering "all options" for sentence.


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Living out in the countryside, some two-and-a-half miles from the centre of the village, Bruce had no access to a bus service and, until November, had relied on a friend to do his shopping, his solicitor Ian Caunt told the court.

When the friend moved away from the area, Bruce had been forced to get a weekly taxi into the village, he said. But on Christmas Eve he found himself without milk and dog food and he was unable to book a taxi.

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"He readily admits how stupid he has been," Mr Caunt said. "As a part-time game keeper, he has horses, sheep and other animals to tend. They are going to miss him if he is put in custody."

Magistrates handed down a community order for 90 hours, including unpaid work in the community, and six penalty points. Bruce was also ordered to pay £30 costs.

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