Elderly woman driver in tears after ‘glasses’ assault

A 75-year-old woman was left shaking and in tears after Graeme Nigel Patterson confronted her about a driving error.

Patterson, 51, who works as a tour bus driver, thought the woman should have given way in the incident at the corner of the Main North Road and Northwood Boulevard in July.

He admits that what he then did was “disgraceful”.

When the woman stopped her car, he approached, confronted her, and removed her glasses while making a comment about her eyesight.

Christchurch District Court Judge David Saunders said: “He took the matter too far. It was one thing to speak to her, but taking her glasses off was just simply unacceptable.”

Patterson pleaded guilty to the assault charge in February and was appearing for sentence.

Defence counsel Colin Eason said Patterson acknowledged his response was inappropriate, after an intersection incident where the woman had not given way and he was nearly forced off the road.

Judge Saunders said the woman had found it “a horrible, debilitating experience – she has lost a lot of confidence”.

He said: “You may have been subject to some bad driving on her part. She’s an elderly lady who may have been struggling with her driving confidence. Your reaction was a complete over-reaction.

“Once you reached the door of the vehicle you should not have laid any hand on her or her glasses.”

He said Patterson was not a “paragon of virtue himself” as far as driving was concerned. He had four previous convictions for careless driving and dangerous driving, as well as assault, and drink-driving.

“You are hardly someone who should be lording it over this woman of 75 years of age.”

During his pre-sentence interview with Probation, Patterson acknowledged that his actions had been disgraceful. The woman broke down in tears and was shaking after the incident.

Judge Saunders ordered Patterson to pay $500 to the woman as emotional harm reparations, and fined him a further $250.

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