by Amy Woodland
A mentally ill man was high on a cocktail of drink and drugs when he stole an ambulance from Herne Bay paramedics, a court heard on Thursday. The emergency response Vauxhall Vectra was crashed and written off. It will cost £18,000 to replace.
Alan Bale, 35, of Warwick Road in Canterbury, appeared at the city’s magistrates’ court and pleaded guilty to breaking into the ambulance station, taking the vehicle and drink-driving. The court heard that Bale broke into the Sea Street ambulance station early on Sunday, January 7, while paramedics were out on call. He took the keys and drove away towards Swalecliffe but lost control and ended up in a ditch.
Ruth Dalziell, prosecuting, said a passer-by spotted the ambulance in Swalecliffe at 2.42am. He found Bale still in the car and said he seemed dazed or intoxicated and did not believe he was a member of the ambulance service as he was not in uniform. Police were called and checked the ambulance station, where they found the kitchen door had been kicked through. A police tracker dog traced Bale from the scene of the accident to Hampton Close, where he was arrested.
Bale was taken to the hospital for treatment, where he told police: “I’m a real bad man. I stole a paramedic’s car and crashed it. I wrote it off. I nearly rolled it over.” He admitted in interview that he had taken medication and alcohol before stealing the car. A blood test showed 145 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The limit is 80.
Ian Bond, defending, said: “Nobody in their right mind breaks into an ambulance station, takes an ambulance for a joy ride and crashes it. “This defendant has a history of psychiatric problems.” He explained that Bale was on medication for a number of different health problems and said his actions were not because he was ‘blind drunk’.
Chairman of the bench Barry Seton-Jones told Bale: “The harm you could have caused predominantly would have been to the general public and to the people who needed medical help while the ambulance was out of action. We need to look at a sentence that will not only protect the public but that will punish you as well.” He ordered pre-sentence reports and adjourned the case until Wednesday, February 28. Bale was remanded in custody. Bale also admitted the theft of a bottle of wine from Threshers and toiletries worth £41.50 from Debenhams, for which he will be sentenced at the same time.