Belfast Telegraph

Man told he can't drive work van after road rage charges

A painter and decorator accused of two separate road rage episodes failed yesterday in a High Court bid for permission to drive his work van again
A painter and decorator accused of two separate road rage episodes failed yesterday in a High Court bid for permission to drive his work van again

By Alan Erwin

A painter and decorator accused of two separate road rage episodes failed yesterday in a High Court bid for permission to drive his work van again.

Desmond Whitby allegedly dug his nails into another motorist's face and punched a woman repeatedly in a row over parking.

The 58-year-old, of Divis Tower in Belfast, was granted bail last month on conditions, including a ban on getting behind the wheel.

He returned to court yesterday seeking to have the prohibition lifted due to the impact on his job.

Whitby's lawyer argued that he is struggling to keep working, claiming on one occasion he was forced to carry ladders for eight miles up and down the city's Lisburn Road.

But opposing the application, prosecutors stressed the case involved allegations of "two very nasty road rage incidents".

A Crown lawyer said: "There's a very serious concern this man is a danger to the public.

"One of the matters was about parallel parking and he allegedly punched a girl four times in the face."

Whitby denies two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He was first arrested after police became aware of an altercation with another man outside Lisburn PSNI Station on October 27 last year.

The alleged victim was visibly shaking and had blood dripping down his face from a number of open wounds, previous courts were told.

He claimed to have been driving along Queensway in Dunmurry, south-west Belfast, when Whitby pulled up alongside in his van and waved at him.

When he put his window down, the accused was said to have shouted at him about the speed limit.

Whitby then allegedly grabbed the man's face, digging his nails into the skin.

Nail swabs taken from the accused were said to have provided a DNA match with the injured party.

Whitby has made a counter claim that he was attacked by the other man he says had been "tailgating" him.

A second alleged bout of road rage occurred at a car park in Lisburn, Co Antrim on June 6 this year. According to the prosecution, Whitby got out of his van at Knockmore Square, approached an aunt and niece in another vehicle and began shouting aggressively.

He allegedly threw a number of hard punches at the younger woman, inflicting a bloodied nose and leaving her dazed.

Refusing his application to be allowed to drive his work van, Mrs Justice Keegan said: "I'm not prepared to grant the variation."

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