A retired professional golfer has been convicted of assault – with footage from her own vehicle’s dashcam used as evidence in the trial.  

Vivien Saunders OBE, who is also the owner of Abbotsley Golf Course, in St Neots, was found guilty of common assault at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on November 21.

The court heard that on August 3 of last year she was behind the wheel of her 4x4 in a gated community of lodges close to the golf course called Abbotsely Country Homes.  

At the time, a group of residents from the lodges were gardening in the communal areas of the development, cutting back overgrown trees and tidying shrubs.  

One neighbour Robert Verdier was unhappy about the work taking place close to his property and was in contact with Saunders, 77, who is the freehold owner of the site.  

When she arrived, Saunders edged her vehicle close to the residents standing in the road and three of them moved out of the way.  

One, who was on crutches and filming what was happening on her iPad, was hit by the vehicle.  

In the dashcam footage played in court, Saunders can be heard shouting phrases such as “get out the way you silly woman” and “move to the side”.  

The Hunts Post: The incident happened inside the gated community of Abbotsley Country Homes, near St Neots.The incident happened inside the gated community of Abbotsley Country Homes, near St Neots. (Image: Google Maps)In the witness stand, Jill Beresford-Ambridge who has a lodge at Abbotsely Country Homes, explained she had the crutches as it was her first day outside after a hip replacement.  

She said: “[Vivien] pushed forward for a for a bit I was becoming unstable because of not having the crutches available.  

“She started pushing again. I was becoming increasingly frightened because I thought she was going to push me over.” 

The police were called, arrested Saunders and there was dashcam footage of the incident available. 

For background, the court heard there is a bitter ongoing dispute between the lodge owners and Saunders involving High Court proceedings and the civil courts.

Mrs Beresford-Ambridge, also a director of the company that looks after the leases of the lodges, said she had her iPad in case video evidence was needed while the gardening work was carried out. 

She insisted it didn’t cause her to fall into Saunders’ vehicle.  

Among his arguments, Stephen Harvey KC, mitigating for Saunders, suggested the incident had been engineered to discredit Saunders amid the ongoing legal battles.  

Throughout the case, Saunders regularly referred to Abbotsley County Homes as “a caravan site” and explained she drove there when she heard Mr Verdier was distressed.  

She alleged he had previously been assaulted by one of the lodge residents and therefore she “took his concerns seriously”. 

Speaking about the incident in the witness stand, she said: “I don’t accept there was any contact with [Mrs Beresford-Ambridge's] stick at all.”  

When reaching his verdict, District Judge Ken Sheraton concluded Saunders’ vehicle did come into contact.   

He said: “During this time Mrs Beresford-Ambridge did lean forward and rested her arm on the bonnet of the vehicle – and that was following her being pushed in that position.

“The result was there was that collision, and there was contact.” 

There was a mix of cheers, clapping and sighs of relief from the public gallery when district judge Sheraton delivered his guilty verdict.  

Saunders was vocal in the courtroom about her disappointment with the verdict.  

Saunders, of Eynesbury Hardwicke Manor, St Neots, was handed a £500 fine, a £200 surcharge, £720 costs and ordered to pay compensation of £50.  

The Hunts Post: Stock image of a dashcam. Footage from Vivien Saunders' own dashcam was used as evidence in her trial at Peterborough Magistrates' Court.Stock image of a dashcam. Footage from Vivien Saunders' own dashcam was used as evidence in her trial at Peterborough Magistrates' Court. (Image: Newsquest)Speaking outside court afterwards, Saunders said: “All I want to say is that justice stinks.  

“I had no intention to touch that woman.  

“At the moment, when you go to the criminal courts, you are a guilty person until you can prove your innocence.  

“And it’s not fair. Justice stinks.”  

Saunders rose to fame in the golfing world during the 1960s and 70s and won the Women’s British Open in 1977.  

She has also published books on golfing technique as well as instructional videos.

According to her website, Saunders was awarded the OBE for her services to golf in 1977.