Wales

Fake ambulance driver Phillip Lemonheigh jailed

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPhillip Lemonheigh said he had driven with a blue light on his car for two months

A Neath man who disguised his car as an ambulance by fixing a blue light to it has been jailed for 20 months.

Phillip Lemonheigh, 60, admitted dangerous driving and three counts of perverting the course of justice.

He made his Renault look like a first responder's vehicle, and drove it despite not having a licence, Swansea Crown Court heard.

Lemonheigh said he bought the blue light to take his ill wife to hospital quicker. She has since died.

The court heard there were a number of incidents leading up to his arrest.

On 24 August, 2011 a speed camera recorded him travelling at 68mph in a 50mph zone at junction 40 of the M4.

Later, he was spotted speeding on the same stretch of motorway.

Then on 8 July, 2013 a speed camera caught him running a traffic light 24 seconds after it turned red at 73mph on the A4119 in Llantrisant and was later arrested.

Fake licence

The court heard when the authorities requested details of the driver involved, Lemonheigh sent them driving licence information of a man who lost his licence in 1994 and now lives in Bulgaria.

They had no idea how he had that information.

Lemonheigh only had a provisional driving licence and already had six points on it.

Recorder Peter Griffiths said Lemonheigh had "a dishonest streak" and he had no hesitation in sending him to prison.

He added: "You sailed through a red light and you could have caused a very serious accident."

Lemonheigh was given 12 months for dangerous driving and eight months for perverting the course of justice.

He was also banned from driving for three years.

'Bizarre case'

The College of Paramedics said it is "increasingly concerned" about a recent surge in the number of fake paramedics such as Lemonheigh.

Richard Webber, a paramedic and director of communications, said impersonating a paramedic should be a criminal offence.

Chris Hume of road casualty reduction partnership Go Safe called it "quite a bizarre case".

He said: "I think it's a sad culmination of someone who has told a catalogue of lies. I think the sentence is a severe sentence but I think it is appropriate. It reflects the seriousness of the offence. "

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Lemonheigh claimed he was trying to help his ill wife
Image copyright Go Safe
Image caption Lemonheigh placed a blue light on his car to disguise it as a first responder's vehicle
Image copyright Wales news service
Image caption The College of Paramedics said there has been a surge in fake paramedics such as Lemonheigh
Image copyright Go Safe
Image caption Cameras caught Lemonheigh jumping a red light by more than 20 seconds