Helicopter scrambled for apple-eating driver

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The Independent Online

A woman stopped by police for holding an apple while driving was fined £60 yesterday in a case that had involved 10 court appearances.

A woman stopped by police for holding an apple while driving was fined £60 yesterday in a case that had involved 10 court appearances.

Sarah McCaffery, 23, a nursery nurse from Hebburn, South Tyneside, had not taken a bite out of the apple but was holding the fruit in her right hand as she negotiated a left-hand turn on 4 December 2003.

She was stopped by PC Lee Butler, who issued her with a £30 fine as part of a Northumbria Police drive against food or drink at the wheel.

The incident led to the dispatching of a police helicopter in order to take aerial photographs and videos, as well as nine preliminary hearings.

Ms McCaffery was fined £60 plus £100 costs after South Tyneside magistrates found that she was not in proper control of her car.

Ms McCaffery's solicitor criticised Northumbria Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for ordering aerial photographs, an aerial video shot and a video recording from a police car for the trial.

Geoffrey Forrester told the bench: "Nothing illustrates the nonsense of this case more than the resources that have been thrown at it."

However, Northumbria Police defended the proceedings, which cost £425, excluding the aerial work.

A police spokesman said: "It is vital that motorists are in proper control of their vehicles at all times and are fully concentrating on their driving."

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