A scrap metal dealer threatened two nurses with a baseball bat in a ‘road rage’ incident, a court heard.
James Honey, of Ascot Way, Accrington, was involved in a ‘near miss’ collision at a set of traffic lights in Rishton with the couple who were travelling to Great Harwood to visit a family member.
The ‘hot headed’ 24-year-old then tailgated the couple in his flat-bed pickup truck and ‘drove very close behind them flashing his lights’, Burnley Crown Court heard.
Andrew Hamilton, prosecuting, told the court how Honey was trying to overtake them at ‘inappropriate’ points on the road and on one occasion had to swerve back into his lane to avoid an oncoming car.
The court heard how when the victims Julia Beveridge and Calvin Westwell reached a 50mph zone they tried to speed up but Honey overtook them, and when they tried to slow down Honey matched their speed.
Mr Hamilton said Mr Westwell started to beep his horn and Honey was ‘glaring at him, waving his arms and gesturing at him’. When the couple reached a set of temporary traffic lights on Blackburn Road they pulled off onto St Hubert’s Road, however Honey continue to pursue them and later blocked them in.
When Mr Westwell asked Honey what he was doing, the defendant replied: “What the **** do you think you’re playing at? Do you think you’re a big man?”
Mr Hamilton told the court how Miss Beveridge then saw Honey reach into his van and pull out a baseball bat and began to approach them.
The court heard how Mr Westwell thought they could be assaulted or have their car damaged and managed to drive off.
Mr Hamilton said during the incident, which started at around 9.40pm on February 7 last year, the couple were in contact ‘at various points’ with the police.
The court heard how Honey was arrested a short time later and officers found the baseball bat in his van. When Honey arrived at the police station he told officers ‘I’ve never done anything like that before’.
Honey pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and possessing an offensive weapon.
He was given a nine-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, with 100 hours unpaid work, a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement and disqualified from driving for 12 months.
Honey was 'hot headed' in 'road rage' incident - defence
Defence barrister Robert Elias claimed it was a ‘road rage’ incident and Honey was ‘hot headed’ because of previous inaccurate references by other motorists to him being a ‘gypsy’.
He told the court: “What saves him from an immediate custodial sentence is there was no damage to the vehicle and neither was there a direct confrontation or violence.”
Steve Cooper, a probation officer who interviewed Honey, told the court: “He admits his behaviour was not acceptable driving and reckless in his nature.
“He would say that it wasn’t unprovoked, there was some provocation there.
“He was a fully registered and licensed scrap metal collector. During that time he’s been quite often abused and had his vehicle damaged because he has been called or assumed to be a member of the travelling community, who are quite often associated with that line of work.
“It’s a frustration for him and one of the reasons it may have exacerbated his anger on this occasion.”
The court heard how Honey now works as a mechanic and in vehicle recovery.