September 19 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, April 12, 2014
A Suffolk parish council chairman accused of driving her car towards a pregnant woman during a row has been found guilty of dangerous driving.
Sheena Waitkins became involved in an argument with Alison Duncan and her pregnant daughter Eleanor Goffin after shouting at them to get their horse off the village green, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
After an exchange of words Mrs Duncan had ridden off on the horse with her daughter walking in front and they were in New Road, Tostock when Waitkins had driven up quickly behind them and overtaken them.
She had wound down her window and shouted at the women to get off the road and had then driven towards Ms Goffin who put her hands on the bonnet because she was scared she was going to be hit by the vehicle.
It was also claimed that Waitkins had revved the engine of her car and beeped her horn during the incident.
Waitkins, 66, of The Green, Tostock, denied dangerous driving on September 20 last year but was found guilty by a jury after a two day trial.
Alan Wheetman for Waitkins, who is chairman of Tostock parish council, asked that she be sentenced for the offence straight away but Judge John Holt said he would be helped by a pre-sentence report which could look at community penalites. Sentence was adjourned until the week commencing May 12.
Giving evidence during the trial Ms Goffin, who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, said the incident had made her feel “awful”.
“I thought I was going into labour. I thought I was going to die at one point,” she said.
Cross-examined by Mr Wheetman Ms Goffin said she was unaware of any bylaw preventing horses from being ridden on The Green. She said she was also unaware that Waitkins was chairman of Tostock parish council.
Ms Goffin said her horse had only walked on the edge of The Green and she and her mother hadn’t thought they were doing anything wrong.
Giving evidence Waitkins told the court she had been a parish councillor for four years and chairman of Tostock parish council for 30 months.
She denied she saw herself as the “self appointed guardian” of The Green and denied she had waved a walking stick at Mrs Duncan and her daughter while shouting at them to get off The Green.
She denied driving up quickly behind them in New Road and driving her car towards Ms Goffin. She claimed that Ms Goffin had been standing a metre away from her car and she had put her foot on the accelerator to let her know she wanted to move off. “I asked her twice to move. What was I supposed to do?” said Waitkins.
She denied revving the engine and holding her hand down on the horn and claimed she was the victim of the incident as she was being accused of dong things she hadn’t done.
She denied a suggestion from Miss Tucker that a “red mist” had come down because she was annoyed the women had been riding on The Green and hadn’t got off when she told them to.