After 86 years with a blemish-free record, a Taranaki pensioner's struggle with losing his independence has landed him his first conviction.
Lloyd Russell Clark had his driving licence revoked on October 21 by Waka Kotahi after his family doctor informed the transport agency he was no longer fit to drive.
Police were advised and visited Clark on three occasions to emphasise he was not to drive - for his safety and for the safety of the public.
Clark was also warned of the consequences if he was caught behind the wheel, New Plymouth District Court heard today.
But that didn't stop him.
He continued to take his car out daily, mostly to visit his younger brother, who Clark would transport to run errands and get groceries.
The police knew he was still driving and managed to catch him on December 5.
Clark was dealt with by way of a warning.
But he failed to heed the caution and again was caught driving on January 4 at around 5.40pm in New Plymouth.
Police had known Clark was not at home and so drove the route he was likely to take when they came across him.
Clark told police he knew he was not allowed to drive and admitted to driving every day.
He still wanted the police to let him drive home.
Instead, Clark was charged with driving while suspended for which he appeared before Community Magistrate Lesley Jensen.
With his daughter at his side for aid, he pleaded guilty to the charge.
Duty lawyer Josie Mooney told the court it was a sad set of circumstances.
"He had his licence revoked for medical reasons. I think there's been some difficulty trying to understand the reason why that's happened and that's why he's continued to drive," Mooney said.
Clark's motivation to get behind the wheel was from concern for his brother, one year his junior, Mooney said.
"Every day he would drive to see his brother, once or twice a day, and he would take him to do his shopping and errands and things like that – he was his main support for his brother, who couldn't drive."
Clark now accepted he was no longer allowed to drive, Mooney said, adding Clark's family had taken his vehicle and would sell it, as an additional precaution.
Given his age and clean history, Mooney sought a six-month disqualification and a convict and discharge.
Jensen agreed and handed down the sentence. But not without a warning.
She told Clark it was time to come to terms with his driving days being over.
"I understand it's a really hard thing giving up this independence," she acknowledged.
"Just be aware that at the end of the six months you still shouldn't be driving if that's the order from your family doctor and discussions with your family."
- by Tara Shaskey