Memory lapse sees case dismissed

Last updated 09:43 24/07/2014

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A Blenheim man who was found driving after he lost his licence for medical reasons has been let off because he couldn't remember his licence being revoked.

Ross Paul Heywood, 52, appeared in the Blenheim District Court on Tuesday charged with driving after his licence had been revoked.

Heywood, a sickness beneficiary, was stopped by police on December 4, 2012, after police were alerted to a truck collision at Kekerengu, between Kaikoura and Blenheim, about 3am.

Constable Aaron Senior, of Blenheim, said he tracked down Heywood as the driver of one of the trucks involved in the collision at Riverlands Industrial Estate, about 5 kilometres south of Blenheim.

Senior said he told Heywood his licence had been revoked.

Heywood told him he hadn't driven in a year because he had had medical problems.

But Heywood's lawyer, John Holdaway, said Heywood hadn't known his licence had been revoked.

Between June and November 2011, Heywood underwent a triple bypass heart surgery and suffered a stroke.

Letters written by medical professionals and produced as evidence said the stroke impaired Heywood's mobility, affected his speech, made it difficult for him to comprehend complex issues and caused memory loss.

Documents produced by police prosecutor Sergeant Mark Harris showed that Heywood was served with a notice revoking his licence on December 5, 2011.

His licence could be reinstated after medical testing proved he was medically fit to drive.

But Heywood said he couldn't remember being served with the notice and questioned where his signature was on the document.

Holdaway said Heywood "honestly believed he had a licence". He had been working as a truck driver for three weeks before being caught.

He couldn't be convicted on the charge of driving with a revoked licence if he hadn't been aware he had no licence.

Mens rea - or a guilty mind - was required to establish criminal guilt, he said.

Judge Bill Hastings dismissed the case on the grounds that there was "less than sufficient" mens rea to convict Heywood.

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- The Marlborough Express

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