A COURIER driver has apologised to the Queen after admitting running over and killing a popular female swan known locally as ‘Flo’.
Randall Forte was fined a total of £792 by Worthing magistrates.
Despite pleading guilty, he said he was unaware at the time of what happened at Chichester Marina.
‘I had no recollection on that day of hitting a swan,’ said the 24-year-old who represented himself in court.
‘I didn’t know anything happened until the email was sent through to my depot at work.
‘I would never have done something like that on purpose, not in a million years and I apologise to Her Majesty and anyone affected by this.’
All swans in British waters are legally owned by the Queen and Forte was charged with criminal damage for destroying the Queen’s property.
Forte, of Hollam Road, Southsea, was working for FedEx when he drove down the road towards Chichester Marina on June 1 and hit Flo, who along with her mate Ebb had seven cygnets.
‘It made me feel terrible, because I’m an animal lover myself and I couldn’t imagine someone running over my animal,’ Forte told magistrates.
Prosecuting, Martina Sherlock said CCTV footage showed Flo sitting in the road, causing other drivers to slow down to pass her.
A white Mercedes Sprinter van from FedEx was shown approaching the swan, according to the prosecution.
‘It comes down the road towards the marina,’ said Ms Sherlock.
‘It’s seen to move out slightly towards the right of the lane.
‘However, without apparently slowing down it continues on driving over the swan without stopping.
‘The swan was seen flapping about in pain for a minute or so before lying still.’
Police used the number plate to trace where the van came from and Forte was interviewed in custody on July 19.
‘He accepted he was the driver of the van that day and was at the marina that day,’ said Ms Sherlock.
Chairman of the magistrates Nick Myers told Forte: ‘You’re well aware of the terrible consequences of your actions. We’re pleased that you showed some remorse just now and you realised what happened was a very unpleasant incident that’s caused a lot of distress and upset.’
Ebb and Flo had been a popular sight at the marina for many years.
Forte was sentenced on two counts, firstly criminal damage for which he was fined £265.
He was also sentenced for driving without due care and attention. For this, he received six points on his licence and a further £265 fine.
He must also pay £85 prosecution costs, £27 victim surcharge and court contribution costs of £150.