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Ambulance thief who sparked 40-mile pursuit across north-east laughs as he’s jailed for more than three years

Graham Ellis
Graham Ellis

An ambulance thief who sparked a 40-mile police pursuit across the north-east laughed as he was handed a jail term of more than three years.

Graham Ellis stole an ambulance called to treat his pregnant girlfriend

Ellis, who drove the stolen ambulance across the north-east, was over the legal alcohol limit at the time of the offence.

The pursuit was brought to a halt when a stinger was deployed.

The 40-year-old was sentenced today at Aberdeen Sheriff Court where he was jailed for 44 months and three weeks.

And as the sheriff detailed the sentence, Ellis, who appeared via a video link from HMP Grampian, sat back in his chair and laughed while drawing on a vape pen and exhaling a cloud of vapour.

He  previously pled guilty to charges of theft, dangerous driving, drink-driving, driving with an expired licence and without insurance over the incident, which happened on November 18 last year.

Ellis, who was given a ban from driving for four years, six months and 15 days, drove the ambulance with 32 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 22 microgrammes. Ellis also admitted breaching a non-harassment order.

Ellis led police on dangerous pursuit

He had faced a further charge of assault to injury on his pregnant girlfriend at an address on Wellpark, Kemnay, which he denied.

And following a trial, a remote jury, found the case against him not proven.

The pursuit covered 40 miles across the north-east.

The lengthy police chase covered the B993 between Kemnay and Tillyfourie, the A944 to Alford, the A97 to Lumsden, the B9002 to Elrick, and the A941 to Dufftown.

During the pursuit Ellis failed to stop for police, repeatedly drove through blind corners on the wrong side of the road and repeatedly swerved into the path of oncoming vehicles, causing them to take evasive action.

At one point he also collided with the parapet of a bridge, leaving it damaged.

Fiscal depute Felicity Merson told the court an ambulance was called due to injuries sustained by Ellis’ partner, arriving around 5.30am.

The decision was made to take the woman to hospital, but one of the ambulance technicians noticed the vehicle moving forward.

He initially thought he had left the handbrake off, but then spotted Ellis in the driver’s seat, who “accelerated away harshly”.

Driving described as ‘erratic’

A police car positioned itself behind the ambulance and activated its blue lights and siren, signalling it to stop, which it failed to do and a pursuit was declared.

Mrs Merson told the court Ellis drove the ambulance around blind corners and on the wrong side of the road, swerving across double white lines and into oncoming traffic.

She added: “Police witnesses describe the manner of driving as erratic.”

Ellis continued to straddle the centre line in an apparent bid to prevent the pursuing cop cars overtaking.

He also collided with the stone parapet of a small bridge, causing minor damage.

The chase eventually came to an end when officers successfully deployed a stinger to burst the ambulance’s tyres.

The vehicle was “contained” by police cars shortly after and Ellis was “forcibly removed from the ambulance and arrested”.

Mrs Merson said Ellis told police he’d seen the ambulance with its engine running and thought: “I’m in trouble anyway, so why not?”

Graham Ellis. Picture by Chris Sumner.

Ellis made ‘upmost ridiculous decision’

Defence agent Iain Jane said there was “clearly a background of addiction issues”.
He explained on the day in question Ellis had been thrown out of the property by his partner in the early hours of the morning.

He had initially decided to wait in a nearby field until daylight before walking to Inverurie, but when the ambulance was left insecure he decided to get in “because it would be warm and he was absolutely freezing”.

Mr Jane said: “He indicates he sat there for a good few minutes when all of a sudden he saw the ambulance driver coming back to the vehicle.

“He panicked and made the upmost ridiculous decision to start driving the ambulance.”

The solicitor said Ellis initially planned to stop a few streets away and carry on on foot, but when police immediately began to follow him the situation escalated.

He said Ellis’ driving was designed to stop the police overtaking, did not exceed 50mph and was even as slow as 10-15mph in a built up area.

‘Potentially disastrous consequences’

On sentencing Ellis, described as a prisoner of HMP Grampian, Sheriff Philip Mann said: “The theft of the ambulance deprived the public of the use of emergency services and that could have had quite significant and potentially disastrous consequences for anyone who might have had the need for the emergency services.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service previously said: “Stealing an ambulance is a deplorable act.

“It is vital that ambulances are available to respond to emergencies.”


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