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Essex private hire driver given suspended prison sentence for driving passengers wrong way along A12

27 Jul 2019

 

A private hire driver has been handed a suspended prison sentence for driving his vehicle the wrong way down the A12 with a customer on board. 

 

Two friends had booked a car to come and pick them up from Brentford Station, to take them back to Chelmsford on Friday 22 February. 

But it wasn't long into the trip with PHV driver, 71-year-old Kwaku Opoku Agyeman, before one of them was left fearing for their lives. 

The pair were picked up at around 1am from the station. A first drop off within Brentford for one of the passengers was requested so the driver set off on the journey.

The first passenger was dropped off at their requested destination and then Agyeman began to make his way to Chelmsford. 

 

As reported in the Essex Live, Agyeman, who suffers from a moderate form of dementia, became confused and ended up driving the wrong way down the A12 - a move which left his passenger feeling "extremely scared".

Although challenged by his frightened passenger, Agyeman, from Barking, maintained he was going the right way.

 

He eventually pulled the vehicle over and was subsequently arrested and charged with dangerous driving. 


Kwaku Opoku Agyeman faced sentencing on Friday 26 July, at Chelmsford Crown Court for his crime.

Prosecutor James Onalaja, outlined the facts of the case, saying: "At roughly around 1am on February 22, the complainant and his friend entered the taxi driven by the defendant at Brentwood station.

"The passengers in the car felt he was struggling to find his way.

"The complainant tried to assist the defendant who didn't know his way to Chelmsford, but he was ignoring them and going in the opposite direction that he was being told to go."

He added: "The defendant made a u-turn across the lanes.
 

"The defendant made a u-turn across the lanes. He then saw car headlights heading towards them at 60mph.

"Cars and lorries were having to take quick and sharp moves out of the way of the oncoming vehicle of this defendant.

"The defendant continued to travel the wrong way on the road, the complainant asked the defendant to pull over and let him out."

The court heard how the police received a number of reports by worried members of the public who witness the vehicle on the wrong side of the road.

 

It has been estimated that Agyeman had been driving on the wrong side of the A12 for approximately five to ten minutes. 

 

He was eventually able to exit at a roundabout and proceed to enter on the correct side. 

"The complainant said he felt extremely scared and that it felt like a suicide mission."  

 

He continued to say he felt that his life was in danger.

Agyeman was breathalysed by police, who reported that he "appeared confused".

The court heard that there was no alcohol in his system, but he was arrested and taken to the police station for questioning.

When asked whether he felt his driving fell below a standard he should be driving at, Agyeman responded 'no'.'

Tessa Shroff mitigated on behalf of Agyeman at his sentencing hearing today.

She said: "I accept it was very dangerous driving. This was not deliberate it was due to a state of confusion.

"It was not a police chase, he had pulled over before he had been asked to do so by police.

"He has not driven since and he does not expect to ever drive again.

"The chances of the defendant re-offending is as slim as they possibly could be.

"He finds himself now unable to do the job he has done for a significant period of his life - the punishment has already happened."

The court heard how the defendant had a moderate form of dementia and would be visiting a memory clinic on Monday. 


Judge Patricia Lynch sentencing, said: "You know how serious this could have been. Mercifully it was the early hours of the morning but it was still a busy road.

"Driving the wrong way down the A12 speaks for itself.

"You have and would have had at the time a clear impediment of cognitive function.

"The doctor goes on to say that he cannot be sure of what form of dementia it is at this stage but it is clear that this could be dementia.

"The expert indicated that your condition almost certainly contributed to the way you acted.

"I can be sure that your actions that night were not deliberate but were down to a condition which sadly is a progressive condition which has been described as moderate.

"I am as sure as I can be that you will never appear in front of the court again."

Agyeman was handed a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and disqualified from driving for life. 

 

It was not made clear which private hire operator took the booking. 

 

Image: Source; Geograph 

Image: Author; Adrian Cable 

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