Former mayor of Medway fined after he drove his car at nurse in Covid testing queue-jumping row
A former Kent mayor has been found guilty of dangerous driving after he drove his car at a nurse at a Covid testing centre.
Vaughan Hewett, who was elected mayor of Medway Council in Kent in 2012, had taken his wife Jennifer to the 'drive-thru' testing centre at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham on the morning of April 16 last year.
The 66-year-old was said to be 'very angry' that another car had driven into a bay ahead of him at the site.
Jurors at Maidstone Crown Court were told that Mr Hewett had an 'aggressive and abusive' outburst after a Mercedes car had pushed in front of his Skoda Yeti, before he drove forward striking nurse, Susan Dyett, whilst she was noting his registration number.
Mrs Dyett, dressed in her blue scrubs, told the court Hewett could clearly see her before he moved forward and deliberately hit her.
She was uninjured but said she felt her leg being hit around the hip area.
"He clearly could see me, I could clearly see him. He hit me on my right hand side, on my hip or leg area." She told the court.
"It made me jump because I didn't realise he would actually do that. I didn't realise anyone could treat someone in that way.
"We are there to do a service and the abuse he gave and the way he drove his car was just embarrassing, really embarrassing.
"I moved out of the way so he could come out of the bay and he did, he just drove off.
"He didn't stop and ask if I was okay. He didn't do anything. He just drove away."
Hewett however maintained he had not shown any aggression and had simply been 'seeking clarification' when he had asked about the need to queue.
He told the court that as he started moving, Mrs Dyett had 'just appeared out of a crowd' and ran in front of him.
"She was shouting 'Stop him! He is getting away' and plonked herself in the middle of the road," he explained to the jury.
"I put the brakes on. Mrs Dyett was standing in front of me and I could still see the bottom of her blue scrubs.
"She started dancing around saying 'Oh, you've hit me'...She made a pantomime of it."
He maintained throughout his evidence in court that he had not been aggressive, and had asked 'a straightforward question' about the need to queue after his wife told him the Mercedes had pushed in.
He said he raised his voice because he was wearing a Covid mask and his window was only lowered a few inches.
Mr Hewett denied assault on an emergency worker and dangerous driving.
However, he was found guilty of dangerous driving and fined £500 on a 10-2 majority verdict, but cleared of the assault charge after the jury of seven men and five women deliberated for five-and-a-half hours.
As well as being fined, Hewett was banned from driving for a year and ordered to pay £500 compensation to Mrs Dyett and £2,000 court costs, all to be paid within two months.
Passing sentence, Recorder Stuart Trimmer KC told him: "The jury has convicted you of dangerous driving on the basis you drove in a way that put at risk Mrs Dyett.
"Driving in such a way where a human is in front of you is without doubt dangerous and to do that falls far short of what would be expected of a careful and competent driver.
"Whether or not you brought about a collision with her, you brought about substantial distress to her."
The court also heard that as a result of the incident with Mrs Dyett he was banned from the hospital for a year.