A runaway New Year’s Day danger driver could avoid jail after an “appalling” six-month delay to analyse tufts of hair left in a cracked windscreen.
Gary Brown took his pal’s car without consent hours after a heavy Hogmanay night out ended.
Brown careered through residential streets in Arbroath before completely losing control and crashing – destabilising a lamp post and coming to rest in a garden wall.
The unlicenced driver then ran off leaving the car abandoned.
He was only traced when forensic examiners found tufts of hair in the cracked windscreen and determined they had been left when the driver, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, had smashed his head into the glass.
That led cops to his door some six months later after the sample was finally analysed.
On Tuesday, a sheriff branded the delay “appalling” and said it meant Brown may avoid jail over the incident.
Fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie told Dundee Sheriff Court: “The accused and the owner of the car returned to the complainer’s home around 1am on New Years Day.
“The complainer was heavily intoxicated and doesn’t remember much else.
“Around 4am that morning police received an emergency call about a car being driven erratically.
“The car was seen to mount a pavement and the driver had little or no control.
“The car turned left into Tarry Road then collided with a boundary wall.
“The accused spoke briefly to a witness then made off.
“Police attended and a forensic examination took place finding tufts of hair in the cracked windscreen, which appeared to have been headbutted by the driver upon impact, and under the dashboard.
“An analysis of that hair matched it to the accused who was later traced.
“He denied having driven the car at the time of the incident.”
Brown, 26, of North Grimsby, Arbroath, pleaded guilty on indictment to charges of taking a car without consent, dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, driving without a licence and driving without insurance.
The incident happened on January 1 2015 in Arbroath.
Defence solicitor Grant Bruce asked that Brown’s bail be continued ahead of a future sentencing date.
Sheriff Alastair Brown deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports and released the accused on bail meantime.
He said: “It is almost 22 months since the incident.
“It is appalling.
“Had he appeared on indictment shortly after the incident he would certainly have been looking at a prison sentence.
“The passage of time means the inevitability of that reduces.”
Police Scotland have been approached for comment.