It's been a while since someone blamed Grand Theft Auto for a speeding spree. Thankfully, a man from Coventry has brought that particular flogged horse back from the dead.
28-year-old William Whitmore told police Grand Theft Auto had "hypnotised" him after he was caught doing 55mph on a 30mph stretch of road in Warwick University students' favourite night spot.
The Coventry Telegraph reports Whitmore was given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, with a rehabilitation activity, banned from driving for a year and ordered to pay £600 costs. Ouch.
The prosecutor said Whitmore's Peugeot was spotted making a poor turn at 2am. One of the car's tail lights wasn't working and its brake lights remained on, so the officer decided to stop it. After the officer accelerated, Whitmore put his foot down like Gordon Strachan during a half-time team talk, and ended up hitting 55mph in an area with pubs, taxis and people milling about.
If Rockstar ever makes a Grand Theft Auto set in Coventry, it would probably play like Whitmore's road rampage: after going round parked taxis at high speed, Whitmore turned into Whitefriars Street, forcing people who were crossing the road to jump out of the way. When he ended up in a dead-end, Whitmore jumped out of the car and ran off. He was then caught and arrested. Busted!
Whitmore's lawyer said "ordinarily he wouldn't say boo to a goose", thus rubber-stamping the "hypnotised by GTA, honest guv" line.
"He works, and he lives with his mother, and is normally a shy and nervous individual," the lawyer continued. "He is someone who can easily panic. He is easily stunned, like a rabbit caught in the headlights. He is someone who would be very vulnerable in a custodial setting."
GTA has a long and proud history of being blamed for real world crimes. Back in 2016 an 11-year-old was caught driving on Ontario's Highway 400 after a night of playing the game. "(He) had just been finishing playing Grand Theft Auto at home and wanted to find out what it was like driving a car," the police said.