THE former chairwoman of Hawick Community Council has been convicted of a "road-rage" offence.

Sixty seven year old Marion Short - who is also a leading figure in the Campaign for Borders Rail - was found guilty of careless driving following a three-day trial.

Jedburgh Justice of the Peace Court heard how she had been gesturing aggressively towards another motorist she was trying to overtake on the B6358 Dunion road near Jedburgh on December 7, 2017.

When she did manage to overtake on a straight she pulled in excessively quickly without allowing adequate space between the vehicles causing them to collide and be damaged.

Short had denied this happened despite the evidence of the other motorist and a van driver following her who described her behaviour as "road rage".

She also claimed police officers failed to caution her properly when they visited her home five days later and charged her with careless driving.

But her conduct in the witness box came in for heavy criticism from depute fiscal Tessa Bradley who accused Short of presenting a "slap-dash picture" of the events that day which were at odds with the account given by the Crown witnesses.

During her summing up the fiscal said: "She did not present to the court as listening carefully to questions put to her in cross-examination.

"Instead she sought to recite the story she came to court to tell.

"During cross-examination she had to be asked twice to listen to the questions and stop interrupting."

Ms Bradley highlighted how Short had changed her account after saying a police officer had told her the damage to her car was "substantial" but during cross-examination accepted he did not say that.

She continued: "The most generous inference that can be drawn about the events is that she was so busy asking 20,000 questions she did not listen properly.

"That was the approach she took during cross-examination..

"What happened on December 7 she gave an entirely different account of what happened.

"She insisted she was only driving up the hill in either first or second gear which is unrealistic.

"She was not able to give any explanation for the account given by the two crown witnesses.

"Her position is that they came into the court and made it all up."

Ms Bradley said that Short told the court the journey had been "uneventful" but that was in contrast to the evidence given by the Crown witnesses.

The trial had earlier heard evidence that that Short's Mini Couper was tailgating a Volkswagen Polo driven by Jacqueline Sargent and then when she overtook the car on a straight, pulled in excessively quickly without allowing adequate space between the vehicles causing them to collide and be damaged.

Mrs Sargent, 58, who lives near Hawick, gave her version of the events from the witness box explaining she was heading to a meeting in Jedburgh and had turned off the A698 onto a road called the "Dunion".

She explained how she quickly became aware of a cream-coloured Mini vehicle coming up behind her.

Mrs Sargent said: "It was tailgating. It was very close to the back of my car.

"I could see the driver in silhouette. They seemed frustrated, throwing their arms around and making gestures.

"The person seemed angry and I was trying to find somewhere to pull in and let them pass because I thought it was dangerous but it was a windy road and I could not at that stage.

"I eventually got onto the straight and the Mini tried to overtake but it came in too quickly and clipped my car.

"I had wanted her to pass me so I held my speed allowing her to pass.

"But as her car overtook, I felt an impact and was quite shocked.

"I assumed the car would stop but it sped off."

Mrs Sargent described how she flashed her lights at the Mini as she tried to follow it but it did not stop.

She was then overtaken by a white Mercedes van and the vehicles continued on the journey into Jedburgh.

Mrs Sargent said she was angry that the Mini had not stopped as she had been flashing her lights and when they arrived in Jedburgh the Mini turned off to the left and the the van pulled in to the side.

She said how she approached the van driver and asked if he had witnessed what happened which he replied yes and said he had noted the Mini's registration number.

Mrs Sargent got the man's name and telephone number and then reported the incident to Jedburgh Police Station.

Asked by Ms Bradley to sum up the accused's driving she answered "erratic".

She also said there was a dent above the wheel arch on the bodywork of her car and was told it would cost £540 to repair.

Her version of events was corroborated by medical supplies delivery driver Matthew Elder, 62, from East Kilbride, who had been behind the wheel in the Mercedes van.

He said: "It seems to me the Mini was tailgating the car in front.

"It was driving very close to the bumper."

Mr Elder then said the driver of the Mini seemed "very irate" and "waving her arms urging the driver in front to go quicker".

But in his view he said the Volkswagen Polo was driving to the speed limit and rejected a suggestion from defence lawyer Ed Hulme that the Polo was driving at a speed of between 10 and 15mph.

Mr Elder said he had witnessed the incident from his elevated position in his van and insisted "100 per cent" there was contact between the two vehicles.

He described it as a "road rage" incident adding: "I would not like that car behind me. The driving was erratic."

Both witnesses said Short's vehicle had "clipped" Mrs Sargent's car and Ms Bradley accepted it was a minor collision.

Summing up for the defence, lawyer Ed Hulme highlighted anomalies in the evidence given by the Crown witnesses, particularly with the timing of the alleged incident with Mrs Sargent saying it happened at around 1.30pm and Mr Elder saying it was around 9.30am.

He added: "The accused and the defence witnesses could not have done more to assist the case by giving a full and frank account."

Mr Hulme said his client admitted she made a gesture but that was directed towards the van driver she claimed was "tailgaiting" her and that she was surprised when police arrived at her home five days later and mentioned there had been a collision.

He concluded that the lack of damage to the car and his client's insistence there had been no collision meant a verdict of not guilty should be returned or a not proven.

JP John Jeffrey found Short of Heronhill Bank, Hawick, not guilty of failing to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident to the police within 24 hours.

But he convicted her of the careless driving offence and imposed a fine of £300 and endorsed her licence with five penalty points.