A Northern Ireland garage mechanic who drove for three miles with a disgruntled customer clamped to the bonnet of his car has been cleared of a raft of charges including assault and dangerous driving, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
Gerry Brown, 53, was at his yard near Castlewellan in February 2008 when Lesley Quirey and his uncle Philip Quirey turned up to demand a refund on a second-hand car Brown had sold to the former for £350.
The vehicle had broken down after a week, and the Quireys were evidently none too pleased. A row quickly ensued, and Lesley Quirey "ran around to the back of his car, where there was a Staffordshire bull terrier and pickaxe handle and I immediately thought that something wasn’t right", as Brown explained.
He continued: "I just wanted to get out of there. They followed me in their car through Castlewellan. I had to stop at temporary traffic lights and Philip Quirey got out of his car and ran over to mine.
“I saw him coming through my wing mirror and I locked the doors as I didn’t want him getting at me. He started banging on the car with his fists then jumped on the bonnet. He is a very big man, about 6ft 4 and about 19 stone and he left a dent in the bonnet. All I could think of was to keep driving and to get to the police station.”
Brown added: “I really thought I was in danger. I don’t feel that I had any other choice but to keep driving. I wasn’t driving fast, about 30mph and he had plenty of chances to get off. I phoned the police to tell them there was someone on the bonnet of my car and I was too afraid to stop. I told them to get someone there quick as it was an emergency.
"They said there was nobody available and kept telling me I had to stop, but I told them I wasn’t stopping until I got to the police station. They told me I couldn’t drive down the Main Street of Newcastle with someone on the bonnet of my car and I said ‘yes I can’.”
After three miles Brown was pulled by cops and subsequently charged with the aforementioned assault and dangerous driving, plus driving while using a mobile phone.
Two years later, Downpatrick District Judge Mr Mervyn Bates has shown all the charges the door, having listened to a recording of Brown's 999 call, in which he said: “I’ve got a New Zealander on the bonnet of my car. He’s f****** lost it. He’s going to kill me. I’m not stopping. This man is going to kill me. He’s three times the size of me.”
Bates said he was was “extremely satisfied that these two men, heavily-built, were intent on intimidating Mr Brown, who is of slight build, into doing something or refunding cash".
He declared: “I accept as a fact that Mr Brown drove at moderate speed and did not swerve despite his obvious concern and fear that I could hear in his voice. I don’t think he had a choice but to drive on with Mr Quirey on the bonnet of his car.”
Regarding the Staffordshire bull terrier, Philip Quirey admitted he and his nephew happened to have one in the car boot, but "denied this was to intimidate the defendant". He claimed the pickaxe handle was "a toy for the dog".
The judge expressed surprise that the Quireys had not been prosecuted "in relation to the contents of their car". ®