Volunteer driver gets sack from ambulance job after vetting check reveals he broke the law 40 years ago

A volunteer driver who gave up his free time to work for the ambulance service, ferrying patients to and from hospital, has been sacked for breaking the law nearly 40 years ago.

Denis Leadbeater, 62, lost his unpaid job following a vetting check which discovered he had criminal convictions from 1972.

Mr Leadbeater had worked for East Midlands Ambulance Service for nine years without a single complaint, until they carried out a Criminal Records Bureau check and dismissed him.

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He used his Ford Galaxy people carrier to take patients to and from Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Sheffield hospitals and across the region.

Former miner Mr Leadbeater said: "I was convicted for tampering with an electric meter and a burglary many years ago but I've moved on since then.

"I was dealt with by the law and and I'm an honest man now. This all happened a long time ago but it seems I just can't get away from my past.

"They told me at a meeting they were sorry to let me go but they had no choice. I'm gutted because I worked well and really enjoyed helping. It was a satisfying job and now I'm worried I'll never be able to volunteer again."

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Mr Leadbeater, from Staveley, near Chesterfield, added: "I am not a dangerous man and I can't see how I could put patients at risk. I loved the job and I felt I was serving the community by helping out sick people.

"I'm also worried what people in my community think now this has happened. It's blackened my name for a mistake I made a long time ago."

A spokesman for the East Midlands Ambulance Service said that patient safety was their priority, and added: "This is the reason we ended Mr Leadbeater's membership of our voluntary car driver scheme. We understand his disappointment but are satisfied the action taken is appropriate."

Jackie Lowthian, development manager for Nacro, the organisation which helps former offenders, said: "I think its appalling that this action has been taken against a man who has devoted his time as a volunteer to help hospital patients.

"Protection to the public is important, but the convictions that happened nearly 40 years ago don't pose a risk to the public."