A private ambulance driver falsely told police he had a stroke victim on board during an accident because of the way he “processes” information under stress, a court heard.

Steven Hurrell, 29, who runs a private ambulance company from Abbots Langley, collided with a car going through a red light in his white Chevrolet ambulance while responding to an emergency in Harrow.

Hurrell, of The Crescent, Abbots Langley, carried on driving after the collision with a green Peugeot 406 in St Albans Road at the junction with Sheepcot Lane, on Sunday afternoon, April 12.

Hurrell, who worked for private hospitals as well as the NHS, telephoned police two hours later to report the accident.

He told the operator he had the blue lights and siren going and was taking a patient to a private hospital in Swiss Cottage.

However, Hurrell, whose vehicle is kitted out the same as a NHS ambulance, later admitted he had not told the truth.

Jennifer Evans, defending, asked Hurrell why the police had been misled originally.

Hurrell explained he had received treatment for a mental breakdown and that he panicked due to previous dealings with police in his work.

He said: “Part of my actual processing of the incident was not logical.

“The logical reasoning is disjointed. There had been mentioned there was a patient on board, but that was confusing because of the situation we were dealing with.

“The patient wasn't on board at the time of the accident, although I had said it in the phone call.

“That was due to my background I have a fear of authority.”

If he had not continued driving and “neglected the patient” he could have faced the “serious charge of murder”, Hurrell said.

He said he had driven through the red light slowly before a Peugeot struck the back of the ambulance.

In cross examination John Theron, for the prosecution, put it to Hurrell he was lying when he said there was a patient on board because he knew he was in “serious trouble” after the accident.

Mr Theron said: “Your driving was not reasonable on that day.

“You should have stopped to face the music and you called to say a patient was on board having a stroke to make your case stronger.”

“No,” replied Hurrell.

Hurrell yesterday pleaded guilty to driving without a licence to drive that class of vehicle and today the prosecution dropped a charge of driving without insurance.

Hurrell denies charges of careless driving, driving a vehicle with a faulty handbrake and failing to stop after an accident.

The trial continues.