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Upwell man Ashley Barnes narrowly avoids jail after towing pregnant woman while disqualified from driving





A man with a history of dangerous driving offences was “very close” to being sent to prison after towing another car while disqualified.

However, it was revealed he had only done so out of concern for the safety of a pregnant woman.

Ashley Barnes, 32, of Small Lode in Upwell, was handed a suspended sentence when he appeared at Lynn Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

Ashley Barnes narrowly avoided jail when he appeared at Lynn Magistrates’ Court
Ashley Barnes narrowly avoided jail when he appeared at Lynn Magistrates’ Court

He had admitted charges of driving while disqualified and without insurance, which followed a number of similar offences in recent years.

Those included dangerous driving, while he was disqualified from driving in both 2017 and 2018.

Magistrates therefore deemed his most recent crimes had crossed the custody threshold, and handed him 12 weeks in jail.

However, they suspended the sentence for a period of 18 months - telling him he was “very close” to being sent straight to prison.

Barnes’ offences were committed on March 8 at Nordelph, when two police constables spotted him driving along the A1101.

They were travelling behind him at the time and noticed the vehicle had no lights on. As they approached, the discovered it was being towed by another vehicle.

After signalling for them to pull over, the officers noticed Barnes - in the leading car - move from the driver’s seat into the rear of the vehicle.

He initially said he had not been driving, but after a warning he admitted to being behind the wheel.

He was asked to show his driving licence, but said he had never had one. He was therefore given a ticket and officers went on their way.

However, after going back to Downham’s police station, further checks revealed Barnes had in fact been disqualified from driving in November of 2022.

The court heard that there was no indication Barnes had provided false information.

Mitigating, duty solicitor George Sorrell said: “What I did come to find out after speaking to him is that he was, at the time, trying to help a friend in the removal of this car, which didn’t work.

“He found himself in a difficult situation… on this occasion he was very concerned by the fact that the lady being towed was a pregnant lady.

“He didn’t want his friend to be the one behind the wheel of the car - he just didn’t trust him.

“He acknowledges that it was a bad mistake, but it was motivated by wanting to help this pregnant lady.

“An unusual story, but he recalls that with some conviction.”

Barnes’ partner attended court with him, watching as he faced a spell behind bars.

Mr Sorrell added: “He is at pains to point out to me today how this relationship with this lady has turned his life around.

“He says, ‘She has stopped me being a hooligan, she has got me off drugs’.

“She is expecting a baby. He is looking forward to being a good father.”

The solicitor said it would be “disastrous” if Barnes were sent to jail.

Probation officer Lewis Spicer told the court that Barnes engaged well with a previous community order, having never missed an appointment.

He said he would not advise any fresh community-based sentence because there is little additional support the probation service could provide him.

As well as his suspended sentence, Barnes also had six months added to his existing 18-month driving ban.

He will pay a £154 victim surcharge and £85 in court costs.



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