Ex-Hawick Community Council chairwoman denies causing road-rage collision

Jedburgh Justice of the Peace Court.
Jedburgh Justice of the Peace Court.

A pensioner has been accused of causing a car crash and then driving off in an alleged road-rage incident.

Former Hawick Community Council chairwoman Marion Short is on trial at Jedburgh Justice of the Peace Court charged with careless driving, failing to stop after an accident and not reporting a collision to the police within 24 hours.

It is claimed the 67-year-old, of Heronhill Bank, Hawick, gesticulated aggressively towards another motorist she was trying to overtake on the B6358 Dunion road near Jedburgh on December 7 last year.

The court was told that Short’s Mini Cooper was tailgating a Volkswagen Polo driven by Jacqueline Sargent and then, when she overtook the car on a straight stretch of road, she pulled in excessively quickly, causing the two vehicles to collide, sustaining damage.

Mrs Sargent, 58, who lives near Hawick, gave her version of the events from the witness box, explaining that she was heading to a meeting in Jedburgh and had turned off the A698 onto the B6358.

She said she quickly became aware of a cream-coloured Mini vehicle coming up behind her, adding: “It was tailgating. It was very close to the back of my car.

“I could see the driver in silhouette. They seemed frustrated, throwing their arms around and making gestures.

“The person seemed angry, and I was trying to find somewhere to pull in and let them pass because I thought it was dangerous, but it was a windy road and I could not at that stage.

“I eventually got onto the straight, and the Mini tried to overtake, but it came in too quickly and clipped my car.

“I had wanted her to pass me, so I held my speed allowing her to pass, but as her car overtook, I felt an impact and was quite shocked.

“I assumed the car would stop, but it sped off.”

Mrs Sargent described how she flashed her lights at the Mini as she tried to follow it, but it did not stop.

She was then overtaken by a white Mercedes van, and all three vehicles continued their journeys into Jedburgh.

When they arrived in Jedburgh, the Mini turned off to the left and the van pulled over to the side of the road.

She approached the van’s driver, Matthew Elder, and asked if he had witnessed what happened. He told her he had and had noted the Mini’s registration number.

Mrs Sargent then reported the incident to Jedburgh police station.

Asked by depute fiscal Tessa Bradley to sum up the accused’s driving, she answered “erratic”.

The collision had left a dent above the wheel arch on the bodywork of her car costing £540 to repair, she added.

Medical supplies delivery driver Mr Elder, 62, of East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, was next up to give evidence, and he said: “It seems to me the Mini was tailgating the car in front. It was driving very close to the bumper.”

Mr Elder said the driver of the Mini seemed “very irate” and was “waving her arms, urging the driver in front to go quicker”.

Mrs Sargent’s Polo appeared to be driving to the speed limit, he said, rejecting a suggestion by defence lawyer Ed Hulme that it was going at a speed of between 10 and 15mph.

Mr Elder said he had witnessed the incident from an elevated position in his van and insisted “100%” that there had been contact between the two vehicles.

He described it as a road-rage incident, adding: “I would not like that car behind me. The driving was erratic.”

Police officers called at Short’s home five days later to charge her with three breaches of road traffic laws and noticed “minor paint damage, scratching and scuffing near to the wheel arch” on the Mini parked in the driveway, but PC Stewart Little said: “It was a surprise when there was only the minor damage.”

Short, deputy chairperson of the Campaign for Borders Rail, denies all three charges.

Her trial, before JP John Jeffrey, continues on January 25.