A DRUG driver who sped away from police in Worcester said he ‘panicked’ when he saw the flashing lights on the police car.

Max Norman was seen approaching the roundabout in Bath Road, Worcester at speed by a police officer before a later drugs test revealed he was under the influence of a drug used in anaesthesia. The 20-year-old waiter of Sunnyside Close, Kempsey, admitted drug driving with ketamine in his blood when he appeared before magistrates in Worcester on Thursday, his mother breaking down in tears at the back of court.

The incident itself happened on February 19 when an officer saw the defendant’s Ford Fiesta approaching the roundabout at speed before heading towards Kempsey.

Amanda Tomkins, prosecuting, said he was travelling at 60mph in a 40mph road and when Norman crossed the central white lines he activated his hazard lights. However, when he reached the 30mph sign he did slow down to within the limit. When the defendant reached Old Road North he ‘accelerated to make off from the police’ and the officer following was not trained for the pursuit so an area search was carried out.

The vehicle was spotted by the same officer and Norman was detained for failing to stop. “The smell of cannabis seemed to be emanating from the defendant. When speaking to the officer he stated ‘when I saw those lights I just panicked,’” said Mrs Tomkins.

During a later blood test he was revealed to be positive for ketamine. The reading was 20mg per litre of blood, twice the limit of 40mg.

Sarah Brady, defending, said: “This is a man of previous impeccable character with a supportive family.”

Mrs Brady said it was ‘difficult to overstate’ the impact upon the family of waiting for the court proceedings. “My client is someone who, since this incident, has got a grip on himself” she said. The former rugby player had suffered a whiplash injury in the scrum, had given up sports and as a result lost his friendship group, ‘becoming a little lonely and cut adrift’ before starting to ‘dabble a little in soft drugs’.

Mrs Brady said he worked part-time as a waiter in Worcester and now enjoys playing sport again. “He made a dreadful mistake back in February. It’s one most unlikely to be repeated,” she said.Magistrates banned him from driving for 12 months, fined him £103, ordered him to pay costs of £130 and a victim surcharge of £32.