A man who drove along the busy A45 dual carriageway in a ‘threatening and menacing’ way as he tried to prevent another driver overtaking him has escaped being jailed.
A judge said he would only serve a few weeks if he was sent to jail – and it would disrupt the responsible life he has been building for himself since the incident over a year ago.
Joseph Facer, 26, of Mellish Road, Rugby, who had brandished a hammer during the incident, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to a charge of dangerous driving.
He was sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months, ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid, and was banned from driving for 18 months.
Prosecutor Lynsey Knott said: “The Crown’s case is that he was driving a Vauxhall Vectra and became involved in a road-rage incident involving a yellow Ford Focus.”
It was alleged Facer had tried to ram the other car off the road during the incident on the A45 at Ryton, forcing the Focus driver to take avoiding action.
But Facer denied that, although he accepted there was a period when the two cars were overtaking one-another.
He accepted he had a hammer in his hand and was waving it and shouting, and Judge Richard Griffith-Jones said it did not matter whether that was in the car or out of the window.
And Miss Knott added: “The issue really is whether there was a deliberate swerving towards the yellow Focus.”
The Focus driver has not been traced, but three other motorists and Facer gave evidence during a ‘trial of issue.’
After hearing the evidence, Judge Griffith-Jones said he was not satisfied Facer tried to ram the Focus, commenting: “If the defendant had intended to ram the Ford, there is no reason why he should not have been successful, and he didn’t.
“But he was prepared to risk an accident to stop the yellow Ford getting past by moving across into its lane.
“I am not sure I am able to draw a conclusion that the defendant was deliberately trying to drive into the yellow car.
“But I am sure that in the course of appalling and menacing driving he was prepared to drive across the yellow car to prevent it overtaking, which could have caused a collision.
“It caused the yellow car to move across and kick up grit from the central reservation; and the defendant was in a menacing way using a hammer, whether in or outside the car.”
David Everett, defending, said Facer was on his way back from working for a bricklaying agency at the time, but now has a full-time job in a position of responsibility.
He and his partner are expecting their first child in December, and she would lose their rented home if he was jailed, added Mr Everett.
Sentencing Facer, Judge Griffith-Jones told him: “Our roads are busy and potentially dangerous places.
“Wholly innocent people going about their business are jeopardised and their lives are at risk when idiotic threatening and menacing behaviour takes hold of a driver like you.
“I don’t know what it was that made you lose your temper with the driver of the yellow Focus; it is your behaviour after that which brings you before the court.
“This was an appalling piece of driving; frightening and menacing for ordinary people. You risked a very serious accident in which not only your life but innocent lives could have been at risk.
“This, I am afraid, does cross the custody threshold, and I have thought long and hard whether it is my duty to impose that straight away.
“But the effect would be to disrupt the life you are trying to make for yourself, it would cost the public to keep you inside, and you would be released after a few weeks.”
The judge added that he was conscious that Facer’s job involved him being able to drive, so was imposing the shortest period of disqualification he could.