A 73-year-old international charity worker caused “significant disruption” on the busiest road in the north when his canal boat fell off his trailer.
Brian Copsey was towing the narrow boat behind his Toyota Land Cruiser on the A9, blocked the overtaking lane and caused traffic problems for hours.
Yesterday at Inverness Sheriff Court, Copsey admitted careless driving – but claimed a passing lorry has created a wind tunnel, causing him to sway, then he hit a pothole – which made the SUV and trailer jack-knife.
The barge slid off the trailer, and blocked the overtaking lane of the main route between Stirling and Wick at Daviot, six miles south of Inverness, on July 27 last year.
It came to rest on the central reservation and it took police hours to have it removed.
Sheriff Margaret Neilson noted: “There was significant disruption to motorists in the Highlands.”
But she rejected Copsey’s lawyer’s claim that “it was a freak accident”, telling Andrew Park: “Lorries travel up and down the A9 all the time.”
Copsey admitted driving carelessly by exceeding the gross weight permitted for the 4×4 and trailer whereby the canal boat became detached from the trailer and entered the southbound carriageway and the central reservation.
Fiscal depute Karen Aitken had told the court that police dealing with another incident had expressed surprise at the strange load and intended to stop Copsey.
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However five minutes later, the incident happened.
Mr Park said his client, whose address was given as Edgcott House, Aylesbury, drove 30,000 miles a year and had a clean licence for 50 years.
He added: “He lives in a small village with limited public transport and has to drive 70 miles getting up at 4am in the morning to catch his flight from Heathrow to Europe.
“He is a UN International Telecommunications Union consultant as well as on the European Telecommunication Standards Institute.
“He works for several deaf charities and has devoted his life to helping people with hearing difficulties.
“Losing his licence would make it extremely difficult for him to carry out his work. The boat is being repaired and it is his intention to place it on the Thames.
“He doesn’t envisage driving this combination again. if he had taken it to a weighbridge, he would have known it was not appropriate.”
Mr Park said that his client had instead relied on advice from respected professionals.
Sheriff Neilson decided against disqualifying Copsey. She endorsed his licence with seven penalty points and fined him £500.
Copsey said afterwards: “I regret what happened. But it was an accident rather than anything criminal.”