Student crashed BMW he took as rugby club prank

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The Independent Online

A student who took a BMW from a dealership as part of a rugby club initiation ritual and crashed it into a tree was banned from driving for a year yesterday.

Jonathon Cummins, 22, led police on a high-speed chase after taking the car from the garage in Dundee and fled after the crash, the city's sheriff court was told.

The student was dared to take the vehicle, have it photographed and return it unscathed as part of his initiation into Dundee University rugby club, the court was told.

Cummins, appearing for sentencing, had admitted careless driving, driving without insurance, stealing a car key and taking a car without the owner's consent.

The student, who lives in Dundee but is originally from Co Cork, was also sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

The court heard that the garage was seeking £10,500 from its insurers and was also told that Cummins may be sued by the business.

Sheriff Richard Davidson described the act as one of "crass stupidity" and said another offence would be punished by a jail sentence.

The court heard that Cummins stole a car key from the John Clark garage in Dundee after going there ostensibly to discuss a trade-in. On the day of the accident police saw the BMW being driven at up to 80mph but they lost sight of the speeding car. They later found it at Templeton Woods, crashed into a tree, with its emergency lights on and the key in the ignition. A traffic bollard had also been knocked over.

The court was told that Cummins later went to a police station and explained the circumstances of the incident.

Douglas Wiseman, the depute fiscal, had told the court that Cummins had admitted to police that he had taken the vehicle as part of his initiation into the University of Dundee rugby club. He earlier admitted stealing the car key and driving the BMW away without the owner's consent between 22 September and 5 October.

He also admitted driving carelessly at excessive speed, colliding with a tree, causing extensive damage to the car and driving without insurance. His period of disqualification was backdated until October.

Cummins's solicitor, Kenneth Ross, told the court yesterday day that Cummins had been unable to borrow money to pay for the damage.

Sheriff Davidson said that the repayment of costs would have been a significant mitigating factor in the outcome of the case. He warned Cummins that had anyone been injured in the accident he would have appeared in a much higher court.

But he told Cummins: "I'm prepared to take into account that you are a first offender, come from a decent family and the purpose of you being here is to study at university."

The sheriff added: "If there was any truth in the suggestion that people have to go through an initiation ceremony, I hope they learn from your experience and make sure that this never happens again."

The sheriff also told Cummins that he was "likely" to be sued by the car dealers in an attempt to recover the costs of the damage.

The University of Dundee said that it did not condone such behaviour during club activities.

A spokesman said that the university, which is to consider internal disciplinary proceedings based on the outcome of the court case, will be contacting the procurator fiscal to obtain a report.