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January 7, 2011

UK man blocked ambulance's path on way to accident

By Emily Koch
Evening Post

BRISTOL, England — A drunk man who stood in front of an ambulance on its way to the scene of an accident has become the first person in Bristol to be given a new kind of court order.

Luke Roberts, 28, was given the drink banning order by Bristol magistrates after the incident in the city centre last month.

The order bans him from carrying or drinking alcohol in public for the next six months.

The court heard Roberts, of Pennywell Road, Easton, had been out drinking with his girlfriend and her sister on the night in question.

Jeremy Oliver, prosecuting, told the court police officers were driving along St Augustine's Parade at about 11pm towards an accident where a man had been hit by a car outside the Hippodrome.

An ambulance behind them overtook, and the police officers were surprised to see it stop suddenly about 10 metres ahead.

Mr Oliver said: "It remained stationary for about 10 seconds with its sirens blaring, then reversed slightly and tried to turn right, but stopped again."

It became clear that a man — later identified as Roberts — was trying to stop it, and each time it tried to alter its course, he got in its way.

The ambulance driver was gesturing at Roberts to get out of the road. Eventually one of the police officers got out of their car and asked the man to move, but he ignored the officer, who pulled him away.

In his statement, the police officer said Roberts had stared blankly at him when he asked for his name, and he noticed a white powder around his nostrils. A bottle of vodka fell out of his pocket on to the road.

The offences breached a previous conditional discharge he had been given at the end of 2010 for another drink-related offence.

He was ordered to pay fines amounting to £250 and handed the banning order.

The court heard Roberts had been given a conditional discharge in September for exposing himself outside the Hippodrome on a night out, urinating in the street in front of dozens of passersby.

Roberts, who was not represented, admitted willfully obstructing a highway and being drunk and disorderly on December 11.

He said: "I did not know what I was doing, I was drunk. I am very sorry.

"I have a big problem with alcohol, I can't apologise enough. I am going to the Addiction Recovery Agency for counselling."

Magistrates ordered him to pay a £100 fine and £85 in court costs.

They revoked his conditional discharge and ordered him to pay an extra £50 fine, as well as a £15 victim surcharge, paid into a fund to improve services for crime victims.

A spokesman for the Great Western Ambulance Service said: "We welcome the court sending a strong message that it is totally unacceptable for anyone to deliberately prevent ambulance crews reaching patients suffering life-threatening emergencies."

What is a drink banning order? A DRINK banning order (DBO) is similar to an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo), and is made to protect the public from someone who has been convicted of criminal or disorderly conduct under the influence of alcohol.

Magistrates can impose any condition they think necessary to protect the public from the person committing further offences. This might include banning them from consuming alcohol in public places, including certain pubs, bars and off-licences, and restricting them from entering certain areas.

Bristol is one of 50 areas to pilot the orders for cases in which the offence was committed after November 1.

Copyright 2011 Northcliffe Media Limited

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