Chinese tourist is jailed for driving too slowly in Hull

Qiaoyon Wang was on her way to visit friends in Hull when police stopped her in the eastbound carriageway on the A63 at Hessle on Wednesday

A Chinese tourist has called the police ‘cruel’ and said they showed ‘no mercy’ after she was locked in a police cell for 15 hours when she was unable to pay an on-the-spot fine because she was driving too slowly.

Qiaoyon Wang was on her way to visit friends in Hull when police stopped her in the eastbound carriageway on the A63 at Hessle on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old from China said she was ‘confused’ when a police car flashed its lights at her Ford Focus hire car. 

She was unable to pay the £100 fine so taken into a prison cell where she spent 15 hours locked up before appearing in Hull Magistrates’ Court.

Speaking through a Mandarin interpreter in the dock, Miss Wang admitted to driving without due care and attention, but later called the police ‘a bit cruel and said they ‘showed no mercy’.

Prosecution lawyer Andrew Stirling said a police constable in marked police car became concerned about Miss Wang’s driving, as she was travelling at 40mph in a 70mph zone. 

He said:  ‘Miss Wang was wandering from lane to lane for no apparent reason. She did also apply her brakes for some reason at that point.’ 

He added there was disagreement between the police officer and Miss Wang and that the tourist ‘wanted to be arrested’ as she was unable to pay the fine.    

However, Lawrence Watts, mitigating, said she was unable to understand the interpreter provided that was provided by police through ‘Language Line’ and she may have thought the police car flashing its lights was ‘shorthand that implied – please get out of my way’.

Mr Watts said: ‘There is no crime in doing less than 70mph on a dual carriageway. There is no entry, so far as I’m aware, in the Highway Code that recognises a headlight flashing in someone’s mirror as an acceptable signal from the police. 

‘Miss Wang accepts that she suffered from a relatively short-term lapse in concentration, and found herself treating the outside lane as if it was the slow lane, because that’s of course how she would have driven in her native China. She didn’t know what to do and she panicked.’

Janice Petherbridge, Chairman of the Bench, told Miss Wang: ‘We have heard what has been said today about the circumstances, and we feel the fact that you have spent approximately 15 hours in custody is sufficient punishment for this offence. 

‘We therefore make an absolute discharge, which means that will be the end of this matter. Enjoy the rest of your holiday. 

Miss Wang, who was four days into her five week trip to the UK when she was arrested, thanked Mrs Petherbridge and was left alone to retrieve her car from four miles away.

She had been visiting friends in Sheffield, where she previously studied, and was making her way to Hull University to meet another group of friends.