'˜Extremely rude' pensioner keeps his licence after knocking traffic officer unconscious on A3M

A PENSIONER convicted of careless driving after crashing into a Highways England officer and knocking him unconscious has been allowed to keep his licence.

Friday, 23rd March 2018, 5:47 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd March 2018, 5:50 pm
Michael Woods

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Michael Woods, 70, had pulled over on the A3M near Waterlooville after an engine light came on in his silver Nissan Navara pick-up truck.

The pensioner started calling his garage while sitting in his car but was quickly spotted by two traffic officers.

When an officer went to see if he needed help the pensioner, who works clearing dead people’s homes for insurance companies, swore at the officer in an ‘extremely rude’ way, a judge said.

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Michael Woods outside court

The court heard how the officer went to note down Woods’ registration number at the front of his car but Woods then ‘moved forward, accelerating towards’ the officer and out into the carriageway, forcing a driver to brake hard.

Another passing motorist captured the moment Woods crashed into the officer on dashcam.

In a statement the victim, Highways England traffic officer Stuart Mackay, said: ‘We are taught about the dangers of working on motorways and are prepared to deal with a wide range of incidents.

‘I’m an extremely lucky person and thankfully my injuries weren’t too severe. Working on road is a potentially dangerous job and I ask drivers to respect my colleagues that are here to help drivers when they need us.’

Michael Woods outside court

Sentencing, judge David Melville QC said: ‘(The officer) span like a doll, landed on the tarmac and was knocked unconscious.

‘This was all because you lost your temper and behaved in an uncharacteristic way.

‘I can tell it’s uncharacteristic because your neighbours spoke highly of you and what you do in your community.

‘Nonetheless, this was a very bad piece of driving, it was at the least thoughtless, the jury decided it was careless.’

Woods, of Downhouse Road, Catherington, was slapped with a £500 fine and nine points on his licence after being found guilty of careless driving and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The judge imposed a community order, two years’ supervision and 20 rehabilitation days for the reckless assault.

He had been charged with dangerous driving over the November 11, 2016, incident but a jury convicted him of the lesser charge. Woods had denied all charges.

Judge Melville said he would not ban Woods from driving because ‘it’s more unjust to disqualify you than to keep you on the road’ as he would lose his current job and struggle to find another one due to his age.

The trial heard Woods had no idea he’d hit the officer, only realising when a motorist pursued him to the nearest offslip and told him at the traffic lights.

Quizzed by police Woods, who has no previous convictions, said: ‘I’m not a village idiot but I do live in a village.’

Christopher Wing, mitigating, said: ‘It was an error of judgement on his part, an isolated incident.’

He added: ‘This was an isolated incident where regretfully Mr Woods demonstrated a very poor judgement in moving away as he did.’

Investigating officer PC Colin Green said: ‘Mr Woods has always denied colliding with the Highways England traffic officer, despite this incident being caught on dash cam.

‘Thankfully the victim only suffered minor injuries but this collision could have been so much worse.’