A pensioner has been allowed to keep her licence despite ploughing into a group of pedestrians – after mistaking the accelerator for the brake pedal.
Marjory Stewart was yesterday convicted of careless driving after crashing her Kia Venga mobility vehicle into a group of tourists in The Square, Portsoy last July.
The 81-year-old had only recently got the automatic car, and told police after the crash that she mistook the accelerator for the brake after turning a corner.
Banff Sheriff Court heard yesterday that the error resulted in the car hitting two parked vehicles and colliding with pedestrians Irene Morrison, Melanie Anderson and Gail McAllister, who in turn bumped into Rhona Smith.
All of the women – who were visiting the area on a golfing trip – were injured, but Ms Morrison suffered serious leg injuries after becoming pinned between two vehicles.
Stewart, of Bellshill, Lanarkshire, had originally been accused of dangerous driving but a sheriff yesterday found her guilty of the lesser charge of careless driving.
She was fined £400 and given eight penalty points on her licence – although the court heard that since the incident, she had been “reluctant” to get behind the wheel.
During the trial, Constable Ryan Rozanski was shown CCTV footage of the four-second incident on July 5 last year.
He was the only witness to give evidence during the hearing, and told the court the pedestrians had tried to jump out of Stewart’s way before she collided with them – which prompted “panic” from those who saw the crash.
Constable Rozanski attended the scene at 3.55pm to caution Stewart – about an hour after the collision occurred.
“She was within The Square, outside her car,” he said.
“I think she was with a group. She was fine, there was nothing out of the ordinary.”
Stewart’s solicitor, David Cairns, said the event had “marked” her.
He added that Stewart had attempted to offer a plea of careless driving at an earlier hearing to prevent witnesses from having to travel to Banff but it was not accepted by the Crown.
“Her position has remained throughout,” Mr Cairns said.
“The consequences for the complainers are severe. Mrs Stewart was quite keen that she didn’t want to put them through any more distress.
“Since the incident, Mrs Stewart has been reluctant to use the vehicle. The whole incident has left a mark on Mrs Stewart as well.”
The Crown had pushed for Stewart to be convicted of dangerous driving.
Fiscal depute Colin Neilson branded the collision “a highly unfortunate incident” and said it was his position that Stewart’s driving fell “far below” the standard required of motorists.
Sheriff Valerie Johnson instead convicted Stewart of careless driving, and said the consequences of her driving were “extremely grave and lifechanging” for the women involved.
Stewart refused to comment as she left the court. The victims also declined to comment.