Court hears Co Tyrone man involved in road rage incident told his victim "he would drink his blood"

A CO Tyrone man who is appealing his sentence over a road rage incident told his victim "he would drink his blood", a court heard yesterday.

Charles Ward (24) of Gortview Park, Coalisland, had denied charges of careless driving, assault and criminal damage but failed to turn up for a contested hearing at Dungannon Magistrates Court.

After a Bench Warrant was issued for his arrest and he appeared before a judge who imposed a term of six month jail sentence along with a two year driving ban.

He was granted bail to appeal both conviction and sentence but an application to drive in the meantime was refused.

The case came before Dungannon County Court yesterday where it transpired Ward now accepted the convictions and sought only to appeal the sentence, but made a further attempt to have the disqualification suspended in the interim.

A prosecuting lawyer told Judge Stephen Fowler QC, that the victim and his wife were travelling toward Coalisland on 29 July last year when they became aware of a white van travelling at speed in the inside lane which forced them to swerve.

They stopped at traffic lights behind the van being driven by Ward and the victim used his phone to photograph the registration.

After the lights change Ward moved on before stopping suddenly in the middle of the road and blocking the car. He approached the car and verbally abused the driver before pushing him and threatening him with comments which included: “I will drink your blood.”

Returning to his car, the victim described Ward punching and kicking his door and window several times before driving off.

Judge Fowler noted Ward is currently partway through a period of deferred sentence at Downpatrick Crown Court for other matters, and felt it would be inconsistent to proceed prior to this concluding in around three months time.

Whilst agreeing to this, defence counsel proceeded to asked for the driving disqualification to be addressed, leading the judge to remark, “That aspect cannot be looked at in isolation in a road rage case.”

The defence accepted the driving was an aggravating factor, but pointed out Ward's partner is due to give birth just before Christmas.

Judge Fowler replied: “Given his atrocious behaviour, the real issue is whether prison will be immediate or suspended. As far as I'm concerned, the disqualification is toward the lower end of what I would impose in a road-rage incident.

"One has to contemplate the victims. Raising the issue of the disqualification doesn't help. It pales into insignificance against his attitude to other law-abiding citizens.”

Remanding Ward on existing bail the judge said he would remain banned from driving. The appeal against sentence will be decided in February.

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