England

Brands Hatch rogue driver Jack Cottle jailed for eight months

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Media captionFootage posted on YouTube showed Jack Cottle racing around the circuit

A man who drove a car on to the Brands Hatch circuit during a race has been jailed for eight months.

Jack Cottle was arrested after footage of a VW Polo being driven on to the track in June was posted on YouTube.

Cottle, 22, of East Sussex, who was driving his girlfriend's car, had admitted a public nuisance charge at Maidstone Crown Court.

Judge Martin Joy told the defendant, of Durgates, Wadhurst, he had "endangered many lives".

He said Cottle's actions were "premeditated" and inexcusable".

The labourer drove the car on to the circuit at high-speed during the last 30 minutes of the four-hour Fun Cup race, on 14 June.

Video footage of the white vehicle, also containing two passengers, making its way on to the track from a pit lane has been viewed millions of times online.

'Panic attack'

The clip also shows Cottle ignoring his girlfriend's pleas to stop the car.

Judge Joy said: "With your girlfriend in the front passenger seat and your other friend in the back filming, you drove your girlfriend's car on to the track.

"You drove a full circuit and I have seen the films with sound commentary showing your girlfriend was hysterical and screaming and begging you to stop, and also protesting it was her car."

He said she had to be taken to the on-site medical centre after suffering a panic attack during the drive, while Cottle came off the track laughing.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The video shows Cottle ignoring his girlfriend's plea to stop the car

"It was quite clear that [Cottle] put himself and his passengers in danger, and those of drivers on the track who would not have expected a car going considerably slower," said prosecutor Iestyn Morgan.

"While racing was resumed after it had been red-flagged, the race was cut short. There was evidence that a number of competitors were upset about what happened.

"As far as the impact to Fun Cup UK, which organised the race, they lost about 30 minutes, at a cost of around £4,200 to them.

"Brands Hatch are particularly concerned about this being copied, in particular because videos were posted on YouTube."

'Easily led'

The defendant pleaded guilty to a charge of causing a public nuisance by driving on to a live racing circuit causing it to be stopped and putting competitors in harm's way.

Ailsa Williamson, defending, said Cottle "lacks maturity and is easily led".

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Media captionMobile phone footage posted on YouTube of the car on the Brands Hatch track

"The best mitigation is Mr Cottle's very early guilty plea at the preliminary hearing," she said.

"It also follows full admission to the police. It was very fortunate that there were no injuries to the competitors in the race."

Jonathan Palmer, chief executive of MSV - the firm that owns Brands Hatch - said Cottle's "reckless act" endangered the lives of the racing car drivers, the track marshals and everyone in the vehicle he was driving.

"His idiotic and selfish behaviour - aggravated by his unrepentant attitude in subsequent media coverage - received much immediate condemnation," he added.

"His conviction and prison sentence will serve to reinforce the message that this kind of antisocial behaviour is not only stupid, but will lead to prosecution."

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