Drink driver found hiding in woods after getting lost in Bonnybridge after COP26

The former head of a Scottish Government-funded overseas renewable energy project was found hiding in woods after trying to drive home from a drunken night in Glasgow during the COP26 conference, a court heard last week.

Mark Friese, 37, abandoned his car and went missing after being confronted by an off-duty policeman at 3.30 am as he tried to perform a u-turn after getting lost and ending up in Bonnybridge.

He was found an hour later in woodland near the M876 and gave himself up.

Falkirk Sheriff Court was told that Friese had battled his way to university after a disadvantaged life start - and the conversation with the off-duty police sergeant had activated PTSD that resulted from seeing someone's throat slit in front of him when he was a child.

Falkirk Sheriff Court

James Moncrieff, prosecuting, said: "The off-duty sergeant was returning home when his attention was drawn to the vehicle.

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"It was being driven in a strange manner, moving around the road, the indicator lights were being activated and the vehicle was going straight ahead, and it was braking suddenly for no apparent reason."

Mr Moncrieff said the sergeant suspected the driver had been drinking, and began to follow the car, which then turned into Norwood Avenue, Bonnybridge, a dead end beside the M876.

Friese tried to do a U-turn but mounted the kerb, and ended up blocking the entrance to a cul-de-sac.

Mr Moncrieff said: "The off-duty sergeant approached and identified himself by showing his warrant card.

"There was a strong smell of alcohol from the accused."

Other officers were called the scene, but by the time they arrived, Friese had gone.

Mr Moncrieff said: "A search was undertaken. He was located over an hour later within a wooded area, and was compliant."

He was taken to Falkirk Police Station and gave a breath sample that proved to contain 71 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 milliltres, nearly three-and-a-quarter times the legal limit, which is 22.

The incident happened on November 13.

Friese, of Auchterarder, Perthshire, admitted drink-driving.

Defence solicitor Kris Buchanan said Friese, currently a senior design engineer with Scottish Power, had been out with colleagues in Glasgow on the COP26 weekend, and had parked his car near High Street Station, Glasgow, and had not intended to drive home.

Mr Buchanan said: "His plan had been to stay with one of his colleagues, but they became separated. He made attempts to find accommodation but there was nothing available and he made the ill-fated decision to drive home."

Mr Buchanan said a psychologist had identified that Friese had "PTSD" issues.

He said: "During his youth he was witness to a number of traumatic events, witnessing a number of stabbings.

"On one occasion, somebody was slashed in the throat in front of him.

"He grew up in a very difficult environment. He was fortunate in that he was smart enough to be able to go to university, and gained a degree in electrical engineering.

"That is why when he was, stopped, he went missing for over an hour."

He said Friese had "clearly demonstrated risk-taking behaviour" but was taking steps himself to address his issues.

Fining him £1000 and disqualifying him for two years, Sheriff Alison Michie told him: "I am sure you cannot fail to appreciate the seriousness of your conduct.”

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