Fire engine driver was serving a ban when he answered distress call
A firefighter who drove a fire engine after being banned from the road has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Shaun Tindall (31), a firefighter with 10 years' service, said he could not bring himself to tell his bosses he had been disqualified for drink-driving.
At Loughborough Magistrates' Court yesterday, he admitted driving while disqualified and without insurance, in December.
Tindall was banned less than a week before he was rostered to drive one of Melton fire stations' two engines, the court heard.
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He drove the vehicle, with four of his fellow firefighters onboard, to a gym in Burton Road, Melton, at 8.30am on Monday, December 3. He had received the ban the previous Wednesday.
Prosecutor Louise Cox said: "While his colleagues went into the gym, he stayed in the fire engine with a watch manager.
They were ready in case they were called out to an emergency.
"He told the watch manager he might be facing a driving ban after his conviction.
"It was reported to the police and he admitted in a voluntary interview with police that he had been disqualified at Mansfield Magistrates' Court on November 28."
She said he told officers he was worried about losing his job as a firefighter as it was his livelihood.
Defending Tindall, Jane Hinds said the incident had cost him his job.
"He is extremely remorseful and the price of his guilt is that he has lost the position he loved as a result of his own actions," she said.
"It was impetuous behaviour. He was fearful that if he disclosed it, he might be dismissed and that is how he ended up driving that day.
"He is a man who loved his job.
"He was in the fire service for 10 years, helping to provide a public service.
"He had had a difficult year, including a bereavement and other personal difficulties, but he battled on through.
"He could not find it in himself to tell his boss he had been disqualified. He thought he might be able to keep his job – not all firefighters drive.
"It was two days later when he came clean."
Ms Hinds said Tindall was "devastated" by what had happened. "He's very upset and ashamed to find himself in court after 10 years of public service," she said.
Peter Green, chairman of the magistrates, said: "He drove a very short distance on one occasion.
"His genuine remorse is obvious to the court and he co-operated with an early guilty plea."
Tindall was sentenced to an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.
He was also told to pay an £80 victim surcharge and £85 costs and was given eight penalty points on his licence, which will come into force when it is returned to him next year.