Knee-steering driver avoids jail term over 'complete buffoonery'
Driver sat on Ford Ka's headrest with his head above the windscreen
A 1.98 metre-tall car dealer who drove a small convertible while sitting on the headrest, steering with his knees and waving to other drivers has narrowly escaped jail.
Adam Elliott, 26, also stood up at times as he drove the Ford Ka through Newcastle city centre in the UK, with his head well above the windscreen, as other drivers tooted their horns.
He admitted dangerous driving at a previous hearing and Judge Robert Adams, sitting at Newcastle Crown Court, handed him a nine-month jail term, suspended for 18 months, fined him €115 and ordered him to pay €1,725 prosecution costs.
He will be disqualified from driving for two years and will carry out 150 hours of rehabilitation activity.
The judge said he was "just persuaded" to suspend the sentence, but told him to grow up.
Elliott's barrister Nick Cartmell said: "It was an act of complete buffoonery."
"It was an act of extreme foolishness."
Kevin Wardlaw, prosecuting, said another driver spotted Elliott on the A184 Felling bypass heading towards the Tyne Bridge on January 26 last year, and was so concerned by his driving that he gave police a running commentary over the phone as he followed him.
Traffic cameras picked Elliott up driving the Ka he was selling.
Mr Wardlaw said: "At various times the defendant was either standing up or in the vehicle with his feet on the driver's seat, his knees either side of the steering wheel, steering with his knees."
"At various times he waved to passing motorists as their attention was drawn by virtue of his seating position."
Elliott was stopped by a traffic officer in the city's West End and after initially being jovial, he became "aggressive and petulant", the court heard.
Elliott has 69 previous convictions, including 13 offences of driving while disqualified, 18 of driving without insurance, thefts, dangerous driving and fraud.
Mr Cartmell said Elliott has lost his car sales business and is now a tyre dealer, describing him as "entrepreneurial".
But he also displayed "Big Brotheritis" and was desperate to show off foolishly, the barrister said.
Referring back to his client's behaviour that day, Mr Cartmell said: "He is a big man sitting in a car and he played up to it."
Judge Adams said Elliott's previous denials that he was stood up, claiming the charge was merely a result of being tall, were "total nonsense" and a lie.
He told the defendant: "You are 26, you have a long history of offending."
"It's about time you grew up, took responsibility for your actions and recognise the danger you could cause to other road users by your stupidity."
The Ford Ka's new owner is 1.89 metres tall, stocky and has no trouble fitting in the vehicle, the court heard.
Outside court, Pc Darren Lant, who was part of the investigation that caught Elliott, said: "This driver was caught red-handed by officers driving in a dangerous manner but came up with a ridiculous excuse in a bid to clear his name."
"It is clear that Elliott's driving standard fell far below that was expected of a careful and competent driver."
Pc Lant said Elliott's claims in the media about being too tall for the car were proven wrong by CCTV.
"Some people may find this type of behaviour amusing but if an individual continues to drive in that type of manner it is only a matter of time before they are involved in a serious collision."