Spennymoor grandad who failed to stop for a lollipop lady cleared of assaulting disabled boy's mother (From The Northern Echo)
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Spennymoor grandad who failed to stop for a lollipop lady cleared of assaulting disabled boy's mother
A GRANDFATHER accused of assaulting the mother of a disabled child after she confronted him for failing to stop for a lollipop lady has been cleared.
Henry John Hopper admitted he did not stop for the crossing patrol outside Tudhoe Colliery Primary School, near Spennymoor, County Durham, on September 21 last year, but denied the assault charge.
During a full day trial at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court today, the 55-year-old said he had pushed the woman once to prevent her from damaging his car.
Mr Hopper, of Thistle Close, Spennymoor, broke down in tears when Jill Richardson, chair of the magistrates, dismissed the case.
“If my behaviour contributed in any way to frightening children I am ashamed of myself,” he said.
The trial lasted more than eight hours and saw eight prosecution witnesses, Mr Hopper and his wife Ann take to the stand.
School crossing patrol officer, Doreen Walker, described how she had stopped the traffic to allow several families to cross Front Street at around 3.25pm.
She noticed another mother and her eight-year-old son, who has Downs syndrome, approaching the crossing and waited to allow them to cross.
The court heard how the little boy ran away from his mother momentarily as they prepared to cross and, during this short delay, Mr Hopper drove through the crossing.
When the mother took to the stand, she described feeling “cross” at the driver’s actions and had tapped on the window to confront him.
She said she received an aggressive response from Mr Hopper. She admitted “banging” on the car bonnet once, but said it was out of fear as Mr Hopper was revving his engine.
The mother said Mr Hopper then got out of the car and pushed her twice with both hands.
“I was still holding my son’s hand at the time,” she said. “I was stunned.”
Her account was backed up by other mothers at the scene.
However, Mr Hopper and his wife told the court the woman was “hysterical” and claimed she had spat in his car and hit the bonnet several times, causing £200-worth of damage.
Mr Hopper admitted swearing, but said he had only pushed her once with one hand to protect the vehicle.
Mrs Richardson described the couple as “every bit as credible as the prosecution witnesses” and said the bench was not convinced an assault had occurred.
For failing to stop, Mr Hopped was fined £37 and was ordered to pay £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. Three points were added to his driving licence.