Former Northampton serviceman who strapped fake siren to his car for 'thrills' narrowly avoids jail

Martin Chapman.
Martin Chapman.

A former army medic from Northampton who nearly ran a cyclist off the road while his car was fitted his car with a fake police siren has narrowly avoided going to prison.

Martin Chapman, of Connaught Street near the town centre, had already accepted using a flashing blue light on his Vauxhall Astra on three occasions during 2016 at an early magistrates' court hearing.

But yesterday the 36-year-old, who claimed to have spent eight years in the army before being discharged, was sentenced for failing to comply with a solid white road marking on two occasions and for a charge of dangerous driving in Billing Road.

Chapman initially told police he used a police siren as he had a transport company and a licence to deliver blood on behalf of the NHS, but the claim was found to be false.

Judge Michael Fowler said the company was sheer "fantasy", before sentencing the defendant yesterday.

"You were masquerading as an emergency vehicle for thrills," he added.

Prosecutor James McLernon said a member of the public initially reported Chapman's crimes to the police after seeing the 36-year-old driving his Astra "with blue lights and sirens activated".

"He had concerns this was not a genuine emergency services vehicle," Mr McLernon added.

After making enquiries, officers set up watch along the A508 between Stoney Stratford and Northampton, catching Chapman using the siren on July 15 last year.

Chapman admitted the siren was a "professional piece of equipment" activated by a switch in the car.

Police then went on to study footage from roadside ANPR cameras and traffic cameras in the Northampton area, finding three occasions where the former army medic was found to have used the sirens.

During rush-hour on July 6, 2016, at the junction between Cliftonville and Billing Road, Chapman was found to have jumped a red light using the sirens, causing a car and cyclist to take "evasive action" to avoid colliding with him.

Mitigating for Chapman, William Glover said the defendant had recently been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and was taking steps to address his behaviour.

"He is someone who has underlying medical conditions, which no doubt led to him using the blue lights," the defence barrister added.

Chapman was given a four-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry out a rehabilitation program with the probation service.

He was also disqualified from driving for two years and ordered to pay £415 in costs.