A principal teacher who went on a 40-mile drive to school with “almost zero vision” through the snow and ice on his windscreen has been fined and banned from the roads.
Neil Jessop, 39, could see very little of the road ahead as he drove over the Queensferry Crossing.
He then began veering across the motorway just north of the bridge as he drove at around 70 mph, almost colliding with a police car.
When officers pulled him over at around 8am, they found Jessop behind the wheel of the freezing car, wrapped in a sleeping bag. He told them his car heater was not working.
Dad-of-two Jessop had been driving from his parents’ home in Edinburgh to his school, St John’s Academy in Perth, where he is principal teacher of art.
A trial at Dunfermline Sheriff Court was shown shocking photos taken by police inside and outside the car, displaying an almost complete lack of visibility through the windscreen.
Sergeant Nicola Young told the court Jessop’s car had been travelling at 60-70 mph just before it was stopped.
Describing the lack of visibility from Jessop’s vehicle, Sergeant Young said, “It was like him doing the ‘Bird Box Challenge’. That’s where people drive blind-fold.”
Jessop, of Corstorphine Bank Avenue, was found guilty of two charges following the incident last February.
He had denied driving a car dangerously in heavy traffic without a full and clear view of the road ahead, with a windscreen obscured by snow and ice. Jessop was also convicted of being unable to see the road ahead and driving into the path of a marked police vehicle, causing its driver to take evasive action.
Jessop claimed that he was “100 per cent” sure his heater was working when he started his journey but that it broke down around two miles south of the bridge.
He told the court, “It was absolutely freezing. It was at the start of the ‘Beast from the East’.
“I made a mistake. I’m very sorry. I thought it would be the safest option to get off the bridge and out of the rush hour traffic.
“I have persecuted myself over this. I haven’t slept for months.”
Defence solicitor Roshni Johshi said Jessop’s job could be at risk if he was unable to drive and handed Sheriff James MacDonald a news report of a recent incident on the A9 where a driver had cleared a small square on their windscreen and was stopped by police.
Banning Jessop for a year and imposing a £500 fine, Sheriff MacDonald said: “I think there is some visibility out of the little hole which is more than can be said in this case.”
He described Jessop’s evidence as “fanciful” and a “quite untrue account”, and added: “There was almost zero visibility to the front. This is not a borderline case, it’s a clear case of dangerous driving.”
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