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Wedding photographer threatened to ‘smash’ female neighbour over parking space dispute

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Darren Best hid in an upstairs room when Sunday Life called to his home, before sending his partner to the door

Darren Best hid in an upstairs room when Sunday Life called to his home, before sending his partner to the door

Darren Best hid in an upstairs room when Sunday Life called to his home, before sending his partner to the door

A bully-boy wedding photographer who threatened to “smash” his female neighbour’s face during a parking dispute hid from Sunday Life when we confronted him about the crime.

Wedding snapper Darren Best (36), from Gransha Wood, Dundonald, was convicted at Newtownards Magistrates Court last week of assaulting his neighbour Chloe McCabe during a row over parking last year.

The court was told Ms McCabe was left terrified after Best threatened to “smash” her face off a car if she parked in “his space” again.

Following his conviction for common assault over the incident, Sunday Life confronted Best at his home, only for the thug to cower in an upstairs bedroom when we called to the door.

After repeated attempts to reach Best, his partner came to the door and threatened to call the police while she filmed our reporter on her phone and took pictures of the car our reporter was driving.

During the earlier contest hearing, Chloe McCabe said her friend had visited her home on September 26 last year and around 11pm the same night Best knocked on her door and asked if one of her friends’ cars was parked in a space near his house.

Ms McCabe told the court the defendant became “aggressive” and was “swearing” and said it was his “space”.

The court heard that although Best had not physically assaulted Ms McCabe, she was put in fear of assault, which can constitute common assault in law.

Ms McCabe said the defendant told her if she ever parked in his space again he would “drag me by my hair, grab me by the throat and smash my face off the car”, adding: “I was very scared.”

Arlene Matchett, who had been babysitting for Best on the day in question, told the court the defendant had made the remark and it was “directed at Chloe”.

Best told the court he had returned home and although annoyed about parking, he denied making such a remark.

He claimed he had told his partner, if Ms McCabe came anywhere near her, to “grab her by the hair”.

Best told the court there had been a meeting previously about parking in the area and people had agreed to keep one space free for each house.

Convicting the defendant of common assault, District Judge Mark Hamill said the case was “yet another example of a tedious, childish, neighbourhood dispute, this one over parking spaces. I am weary.”

The judge said that although there had been no physical contact, an assault can involve a fear of immediate violence.

He said the defendant had made an “extremely specific and detailed threat” about dragging Ms McCabe’s hair, grabbing her throat and smashing her face off a car.

Following the conviction, a defence lawyer said the defendant was “very regretful”.

Judge Hamill said Best had lost “the run of himself” after getting home after a long day at work and finding nowhere to park.

He was bound over to keep the peace for two years in the sum of £500.

Best and his partner operate a swanky wedding photography business called The Three Bears, which has been endorsed by the high-end Galgorm hotel and spa near Ballymena.

Describing themselves as a family outfit of “fine art storytellers” specialising in “elopement photography”, their business’s website carries several blogs boasting about their globetrotting adventures with wedding couples.

The blurb on their website reads: “We are a family team available to shoot worldwide. Both Ana and I are shooters.

“We are fine art storytellers. We take a candid, fly-on-the-wall documentary approach. We want to collaborate with adventurous couples that are head over heels in love and excited about creating images with us.

“We have documented couples and weddings all over the globe as far as Bali, Indonesia, and are available to travel worldwide. There is nothing more we love than grabbing our passports and packing our bags.”

The Three Bears, when approached for comment, said Best “intends to appeal” his conviction.

Galgorm did not respond to request for comment.


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