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Former Mayor of Medway guilty of dangerous driving after losing temper at Medway Maritime Hospital Covid test drive-in

A former Mayor of Medway has been convicted of driving dangerously while taking his wife for a Covid test and told to pay his victim £500 in compensation.

Property owner Vaughan Hewett, who wore the chain of office in 2012-13, lost his temper when he believed someone had jumped a queue.

Vaughan Hewett, pictured in 2013 when he was Mayor of Medway. Picture: Andy Payton
Vaughan Hewett, pictured in 2013 when he was Mayor of Medway. Picture: Andy Payton

But after a five-day trial at Maidstone Crown Court the 66-year-old was acquitted of assaulting an emergency worker.

The jury was out for five-and-a-half hours before returning a guilty verdict for driving dangerously against Hewett.

Prosecutor John Fitzgerald had claimed: "This is a case about a man under pressure, in difficult circumstances, who lost his temper.

"Sadly, he took it out on a nurse just doing her job for the community as part of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in April 2021."

Hewett, of Marshall Road, Gillingham, had denied both charges of dangerous driving and assaulting an emergency worker.

Mr Fitzgerald told the jury: "The prosecution case is that Mr Hewett was angry that someone had jumped the queue and after being rude and raising his voice to the nurse, Susan Dyett and security staff."

"This was during the time when our lives were dominated by Covid-19 and our vaccination programmes were in full swing."

The judge, Recorder Stuart Trimmer KC, said it had been an "odd and sad" case but Hewett had driven his car "in such a way it put Mrs Dyett at risk".

Hewett replied "I understand" before being told he was also banned from driving for a year and would have to take an extended test before getting back behind the wheel.

The jury heard how Mrs Dyett was working in the grounds of Medway Maritime Hospital as an assistant taking swab tests, doing a shift from 8am to 4pm.

At 9.40 am, she went into the car park to meet her next appointment, who was the defendant’s wife, Mrs Hewett, who was very ill and needed a negative test to be able to continue her cancer treatment.

The jury heard how as Mrs Dyett came out of her office, Hewett started shouting at her, complaining that someone had jumped the queue in front of him.

The prosecutor added: "She thought he was rather aggressive. Mrs Dyett apologised, not that she needed to, but pointed out she had not seen what happened.

"The defendant said rather arrogantly, 'I pay your wages', probably suggesting that because he pays taxes he is somehow entitled to speak to her in that fashion."

Mrs Dyett stumbled to one side and moved out of the way. The defendant drove off, apparently disinterested in Mrs Dyett’s welfare, added Mr Fitzgerald.

Vaughan Hewett, pictured in 2014 when he was a Medway councillor. Picture: Steve Crispe
Vaughan Hewett, pictured in 2014 when he was a Medway councillor. Picture: Steve Crispe

The defendant said someone had parked so as to jump the queue. He made a polite enquiry of Mrs Dyett, nothing more.

He denied being rude, aggressive or talking any louder than necessary to be heard through his face mask.

The judge fined him £500 and ordered him to pay the nurse £500 compensation.

The former mayor was also told to pay £2,000 court costs and, when asked how he would pay, he replied: "Do you take credit cards?"

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