Monday, 18 December 2017

Man cleared of assault in road rage incident

A LANDSCAPE gardener has been cleared of assaulting a terminally ill man in a “road rage” incident.

A LANDSCAPE gardener has been cleared of assaulting a terminally ill man in a “road rage” incident.

Douglas King was alleged to have shoved Ian Phillips to the ground during the incident in Henley Road, Caversham.

He was acquitted at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Monday after saying he was provoked and acted in self-defence.

Mr King, 44, of Send Road, Caversham, said: “I find the whole matter entirely regrettable.”

Mr Phillips, who has terminal cancer, was unable to attend the hearing due to his condition but in a statement read to the court he recalled the incident on February 8.

He said he was in the passenger seat as his wife Justine was driving their BMW along Henley Road towards Reading and Mr King was behind them in a Ford Transit.

Mr Phillips said his wife felt the van was too close so she pulled over to the side of the road after the traffic lights at the junction with Caversham Park Road to let the van go by.

As the couple continued their journey, the van turned around and came back towards them and then turned round again.

Mrs Phillips stopped at the side of the road and reached for her phone to call the police as Mr King approached from behind. Mr Phillips said: “I thought the driver was coming back to have a verbal altercation with us so I got out of the car to confront him over his standard of driving.

“I felt his driving was dangerous, irresponsible and threatening.”

He said he was stood behind the BMW as the van approached “at speed” and thought he was going to be hit so he waved his hands and then one leg which accidentally hit the van. Mr King came out of the van and shouted abuse at him.

Mr Phillips said Mr King was about a foot away and “out of control”.

“I then saw the male raise both hands and shove me in the chest,” he said. “I felt a hard thud in my chest and I stumbled backwards. I was in shock at this point.

“The male shoved me again in the chest. The shove felt harder than the first and it really hurt. I fell back on to the right hand side and landed on the pavement. I couldn’t break my fall.”

Mr King drove off and an ambulance was called which took Mr Phillips to the Royal Berkshire Hospital. He had to inform the crew that he had been diagnosed with cancer two months before and was having chemotherapy.

His injuries included a black eye, a graze and a small cut to his right eye.

Mr King told the court that Mrs Phillips mouthed abuse and made obscene hand gestures at him as he passed her so he turned round to confront her. He stopped when he saw Mr Phillips waving his arms at him.

“I decided to pull in behind the car and deal with the situation,” he said. “It was at that point that Mr Phillips kicked the front of my Transit. I got out of the van and was in the process of asking why he did that when he came towards me in a manner I thought was threatening, particularly as he had just kicked my van.

“I thought he was going to lash out at me so I put my hands out to create a safe space between us.

He said he didn’t know Mr Phillips was unwell.

“I find the whole matter entirely regrettable but I believe both parties are accountable,” he said. “My sincere heart goes out to Mr Phillips in his predicament.”

Sue Birtwistle, who chaired the bench, said it could not be proved that Mr Phillips had been shoved and the incident was due to “road rage” as both parties were in a “state of agitation”.

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