A motorist dragged a police officer across tarmac before ploughing his vehicle into a patrol car at the end of a bizarre low-speed chase through rural Perthshire.
Robert McPherson “panicked” when police gave him a friendly warning about using his phone behind the wheel and took off through a red light.
The 35-year-old refused to stop as he motored 15 miles through villages, with three police cars hot on his tail.
At no point did McPherson break the speed limit, even dropping to as low as 20mph.
When his Ford Ka eventually came to a halt in the centre of Crieff, PC Connor Lees opened his passenger door and ordered him to stop.
McPherson told him: “You can’t be here,” before pressing the accelerator and ramming into a police car blocking his path.
McPherson, of Moncrieffe Terrace, Perth, appeared at the city’s sheriff court on Wednesday and admitted a charge of dangerous driving through Methven, Gilmerton and Crieff on May 5, last year.
He was fined £1,500 and banned from driving for three years.
Sheriff Neil Bowie described McPherson’s behaviour as “totally inexplicable.”
The court heard that the drama unfolded when McPherson was spotted, just before midday, waiting at traffic lights near Dobbies Garden Centre off the A85 Crieff to Perth road.
Fiscal Depute Andrew Harding said: “Police on patrol in a marked car positioned themselves alongside the accused’s car and spoke to him through an open window.
“After taking advice, the accused immediately proceeded to drive forward through the traffic light junction.
“He turned left and travelled along the A85 towards Crieff.”
Mr Harding said pursuing officers activated their blue lights and siren.
“The accused slowed down but drove past a lay-by.
“When it was safe to do so, police officer Gary Campbell manoeuvred his vehicle into the opposing east bound carriageway and pulled up, adjacent to the accused’s car.
“PC Campbell instructed the accused to pull over but he refused and continued to drive west.
“He continued to drive to the speed limit, in a reasonable manner.”
Mr Harding said McPherson failed to stop just outside Gilmerton, when he was flagged down by PC Emma Whyte, who was waiting in a police van at the roadside.
A third police vehicle joined the pursuit after McPherson motored on towards Crieff.
He passed through East High Street, High Street and West High Street, before turning into Burrell Square.
“The accused’s vehicle came to a stop because of a civilian vehicle being to his right,” said Mr Harding.
“Constable Lees opened the passenger door of the vehicle, to direct the accused to stop.
“As he did this, one of his colleagues positioned his vehicle in front of the accused’s car.
“The accused shouted to Lees: ‘You can’t be here.’
“He then drove forward, with Constable Lees half in and half out of the vehicle.”
The police officer was able to pull the parking brake, just as the car smashed into the patrol car.
Mr Harding said both vehicles were damaged and PC Lees was injured.
McPherson told police: “I wasn’t paying attention. I was trying to keep my speed to the road.”
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Solicitor Jamie Baxter said his client, who has learning difficulties and suffers from an obsessive compulsive disorder, had never been in trouble with the law before.
“He is obsessed about cleanliness and has difficulty with people touching him.
“When he was approached by police at the traffic lights, he had lost his way and was trying to locate his mother and brother.
“He panicked after being spoken to by police. He was not able to deal with being followed by police.”
Mr Baxter said that PC Lees was only dragged for a short distance, before McPherson’s car hit the police vehicle in a “low-speed collision”.
Sheriff Bowie told McPherson: “This course of driving is in many ways totally inexplicable.
“You caused a number of police vehicles to be engaged in attempting to stop you and one police officer was injured, albeit not seriously.
“Normally a matter like this would result in a custodial sentence, but I take regard that you are a first offender with significant difficulties.”