Driver, 85, fights to keep license

AN 85-year-old Colyton woman who was found guilty of driving without due care and attention has been spared a disqualification.

AN 85-year-old Colyton woman who was found guilty of driving without due care and attention has been spared a disqualification.

Eighty-five-year-old Mieke Miller Jansen, of Colyton Hill, pulled out in front of a police officer and did not stop when he sounded his siren, a court heard.

Central Devon Magistrates' Court ordered she pay �135 costs and endorsed her license with three penalty points.

Giving evidence, Sidmouth Pc Adam Johnson said that Mrs Jansen had pulled out front of him from a garage (Tower Services) near the A3052 in Seaton, on March 19.

He said he had been travelling at around 35 miles per hour, had sounded his horn as a warning because he did not think she had seen him, and then had to do an emergency stop to avoid a collision.

He said he followed her Citroen with sirens on and lights flashing for two miles and she failed to stop.

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He said: "The car just bumbled along driving, as if nothing had happened."

He later went to her home address, after doing a search of her registration. He said she had not been aware that she had nearly caused an accident, but admitted she had seen the lights - but thought he had been travelling to an emergency.

In mitigation, Mrs Jansen, who represented herself with assistance from neighbour Tony Robinson, pleaded not guilty. She said Pc Johnson had treated her 'like a criminal' and that his statement was 'littered with errors'.

She said: "I looked left and right and it was absolutely clear. Before I got to the other side, probably a few feet away, I heard this horn. I looked in the mirror and saw something grey and an angry-looking face."

She added: "He had to stop because he was going so fast."

She complained that the summons had been addressed to her late husband and had stated the incident took place in Sidmouth, as opposed to Seaton.

She disputed the police officer's distance and said there was poor visibility from the garage's exit.

Prosecuting, Mark Haddon said it was the responsibility of the driver exiting to give way.

He gave the court guidelines for sentencing, including costs, and said that disqualification from driving until a test was retaken could be a possibility.

He said: "It's a bit more like prosecuting a grandmother, but I feel I would be failing if I didn't say it as an option."

The chairman of the bench said: "It means you can still drive. I would hasten to say to you, please be very careful out there.

"If another incident happens the court may not look on it so leniently."

Mr Robinson said of the outcome that Mrs Jansen, a former Dutch resistance fighter, was a courageous woman. He said: "She's absolutely got the fighting spirit still."

Mrs Jansen was relieved with the sentence and said: "At last, British justice has been done."

AFTER the trial, Meike Miller Jansen spoke of her relief at being spared a driving ban.

But the 85-year-old argues she is a safe driver and hopes to still be on the road into her 90s.

Mrs Jansen, of Colyton Hill, was found guilty of driving without due care and attention, had her driving licence endorsed with three penalty points and was ordered to pay �135 costs.

She said: "It could have been worse.

"I would say I'm an ordinary, safe driver. I don't go into towns and cities anymore. I only travel locally.

"I have a lot of friends who help me, but it's about being independent.

"I know myself and I would certainly stop driving if I thought I was a danger on the road.

"But mentally, I'm perfectly alert.

"Dame Vera Lynn is 92 and still driving. I hope I will be like here."

Mrs Jansen, a former dental nurse in Honiton and farmer, has been driving for 53 years and previously had a clean driving license.

She said: "I feel sad that it's happened. I'm a person that, if I think I'm guilty, I'd plead guilty."

A messenger in the Dutch resistance, Mrs Jansen is not the type of person to give in without a fight.

She says her age does not make her a hazard on the road.

She said: "Several people think you should give up driving as soon as you're 75, but I haven't caused an accident, or even a scratch.

"It's up to the individual, how they feel. I think my mind is still good - to represent myself in court took some doing.

"I didn't feel like paying �400 to get me off something I felt strongly about."

But she says that after a six month wait, she is relieved the case is now over.

She will continue to have a review of her driving every three years

She said: "I don't know if I'll make the next one. I don't know what the future holds."

A police spokesman said: "We don't consider people's age is an issue.

"Each case is judged on its own merit.