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Man, 87, with Alzheimer’s forgets he doesn’t have a licence

A MAN with Alzheimer's, who forgot he didn't have a licence and then drove his car, has had his charges dismissed in Hervey Bay Magistrates Court.

Kenneth James Ainsworth, 87, appeared in court on Wednesday facing charges of unlicensed driving, and failing to provide his identifying particulars to the police.

Mr Ainsworth was supported by his wife and daughter in court, with his wife telling Magistrate Graeme Tatnell she would speak on behalf of her husband, due to his struggles with Alzheimer's disease.

Mrs Ainsworth did not think much of her husband's charges, calling the notice to appear before the court and the notice to give identifying particulars a "...packet of poo tickets".

"I don't think I've ever heard to them referred to as packet of poo tickets," Mr Tatnell said, taken aback by the feisty woman.

Mr Tatnell then asked Mr Ainsworth if he understood the charges against him.

Mr Ainsworth said he did not.

"As far as I know, I've never lost my licence," he said.

Neither Mr and Mrs Ainsworth, nor their daughter, disputed the fact Mr Ainsworth had been caught driving without a licence, but Mr Tatnell expressed concerns about accepting a guilty plea.

Due to Mr Ainsworth's dementia, Mr Tatnell held that he did not have the capacity to enter a plea, and dismissed the charges.

Before doing so, however, Mr Tatnell made sure Mr Ainsworth's daughter understood the seriousness of the situation, and sought an undertaking from her that she would make sure her father no longer had access to car keys.

"It's a huge danger to the community," Mr Tatnell said.

The daughter said she understood, and would do all the driving for her father from now on.

Marcy Scarlett, the communications manager for Alzheimer's Australia (Queensland) said cases of Alzheimer's sufferers forgetting they were not supposed to drive was not unheard of.

She said there were a number of ways friends and family members could support sufferers of the condition and tips could be found online at fightdementia.org.au.

People can also phone 1800 100 500 for counselling or advice, Ms Scarlett said.

Topics:  alzheimer's, court, editors picks, hervey bay, licence, police

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