A TIRED man who was seen driving badly on the A595 blamed his exhaustion behind the wheel on having had hiccups for three days.‬

‪Paul David Bates, 48, was brought to book thanks to the efforts of good citizen and fellow motorist Stephen Hallett, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

Mr Hallett was travelling near Egremont at around 7-30pm on September 14, when he became aware of Bates’ gold Citroen Picasso behind him.

Bates was driving so close to his car that Mr Hallett was feared there would be a collision. Describing the defendant, he said: he was slumped over the steering wheel as his vehicle swerved back and forth, straddling the road’s central white line.

Mr Hallett pulled over to let Bates past, phoned the police and then provided a “running commentary” for police control staff while following behind the defendant’s car from a safe distance.

“What followed was more very erratic driving,” prosecutor Tim Evans told the court.

At one point, Bates was seen on the wrong side of the road as he approached a right-hand bend and, once in Seascale, he clipped a parked vehicle.

Although officers who attended felt that he was “cognitively slow and unsteady on his feet”, there was no trace of alcohol or drugs found in the defendant’s system, said Mr Evans.

Bates was initially deemed to be unfit to be interviewed due to his exhaustion.

Mr Evans said: “He, the defendant, was for claiming that he had been suffering from a bout of hiccups for three consecutive days and had not been getting any sleep due to hiccups.”

‪Delivery driver Bates, of Wellington, Seascale, pleaded guilty to careless driving and stood to lose his job after nine penalty points were added to three already on his licence. He was also fined £130.‬

“It was purely as a result of tiredness and exhaustion,” said defence barrister Anthony Parkinson, defending, explaining the offence.

“He demonstrates some degree of remorse and insight into his behaviour and his driving.”

‪Recorder Eric Lamb commended Mr Hallett’s public spirited actions, saying: “Rather than simply keeping out of the way, he took the precaution of phoning the police, and took steps to ensure that the poor driving of this defendant was brought to the attention of the police.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest ever bout of hiccups was suffered by Charles Osborne, who had the condition for 68 years, from 1922 to 1990.