A NURSERY nurse was convicted of eating an apple at the wheel of her car after police used a plane, helicopter and patrol car to gather evidence against her.

Sarah McCaffery, 23, munched the apple on her way to work, holding it in one hand.

She was spotted by a police officer and was furious at receiving a £30 on-the-spot ticket for not being in proper control of her Ford Ka, and vowed to fight the case in court.

But Northumbria Police won their case yesterday after using all the resources at their disposal to hammer home the evidence.

South Tyneside magistrates heard a fixed-wing spotter plane was brought in to fly over McCaffery's route, taking pictures.

The force helicopter repeated the exercise before a squad car travelled the route with a video camera attached.

Both aircraft cost thousands of pounds to launch, but police said they happened to be in the area at the time.

Magistrates ruled that McCaffery, of Blackpool Parade, Hebburn, South Tyneside, was not in proper control of the car as she negotiated a left turn with the apple in her right hand.

She was fined £60 and ordered to pay £100 costs at the tenth court hearing into the case.

Her lawyer, Geoffrey Forrester, criticised Northumbria Police and the Crown Prosecution Service, saying: "Nothing illustrates the nonsense of this case more than the resources that have been thrown at it."

Chairman of the bench Ken Buck said: "We accept that there are times when you can drive with one hand, but, in holding an apple while negotiating a left-hand turn, we consider you not to have been in full control."

Northumbria Police said yesterday they would take action against anyone eating or drinking while driving.

A spokesman said: "As the defendant chose for the matter to go to a court trial rather than accept a fixed-penalty notice, we were obliged to gather all appropriate evidence to present our case."