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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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‘Mild-mannered’ Cumbrian man jailed for road rage attack

A motorcyclist had to leap over high iron railings when a furious car driver drove at him in a road rage incident at one of Carlisle’s busiest road junctions.

It was only because Terence Chandler was so agile that, after the car knocked him onto the top of a rubbish bin, he managed to continue the movement so that he vaulted clean over the railings as well.

If he had not done so, a judge at the city’s Crown Court said, the consequences could have been “disastrous”.

The car driver – 44-year-old Penrith man Ian Bretherton – was jailed for three-and-a-half years for what everyone agreed was a classic case of road rage. He was also banned from driving for four years.

The court heard there was no obvious reason why Bretherton – described as “a passive, mild-mannered man who does not normally have a short fuse” – reacted so badly after a minor accident in which his Ford Mondeo made contact with Mr Chandler’s motorcycle in Warwick Road, on Monday May 28.

Mr Chandler believed Bretherton had deliberately collided with him as the bike “filtered” past the traffic after coming out of the Tesco car park at Rosehill, prosecutor Alan Lovett said.

The young biker stopped “to make his feelings known to the driver” and, after getting off his machine at the junction with Victoria Road, walked to the car and punched the window “out of frustration and anger”.

“By his own admission he said some things that he probably should not have said,” Mr Lovett said.

But as he walked back to his bike he heard the sound of an engine revving and wheels spinning, then saw Bretherton’s car coming straight at him. Mr Chandler minimised the impact by jumping into the air as the car hit him, the court heard, so that he landed in the road on his feet and hands.

But then Bretherton reversed, before accelerating forward and driving at him again.

Mr Chandler ran towards the wall outside the Botcherby Community Centre, and jumped up again, but the car hit him and knocked him onto a rubbish bin, from where he leapt over the railings.

The bin he had been standing on was “crushed” against the wall, Mr Lovett said.

Mr Chandler escaped with nothing worse than bruises to his hand, legs and body, but he was still traumatised and suffering so many nightmares nearly six months later that he was having counselling, the court heard.

His £6,000 bike was a write-off and he had now given up motorcycling.

Mr Lovett said that witnesses were “horrified” by what they had seen, and one told the police afterwards: “I thought he was trying to kill him.”

Bretherton, who lives in a flat in Abbotsford House, Wordsworth Street, Penrith, pleaded guilty to attempting to unlawfully and maliciously cause Mr Chandler grievous bodily harm with intent to do so.

Defence solicitor Mark Shepherd said that Bretherton had been frightened when Mr Chandler started banging on his car window and shouting abuse at him, but for some reason he “froze” so that he was not able to phone the police as he should have done.

He said Bretherton had had psychotherapy to find out why he had reacted as he did.

The problem might have been made worse by the fact that for four years Bretherton had been experiencing “huge financial pressures” because of the £85,000 debts run up by a failed business.

Recorder Kevin Grice, told Bretherton: “It is a matter of the greatest good fortune – combined with Mr Chandler’s agility – that the consequences were not much more grave.”

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