Harpenden doctor convicted of road rage attack

A MOTORIST was sent sprawling on to a car bonnet in a bizarre early morning road rage attack by a retired doctor wearing a cricket helmet, a court heard this week.

Dr Anthony Hall, 74, of Manland Avenue, Harpenden, suffered a fear of “tailgating” and believed that former fireman Anthony Grainge was driving too close to him.

It led to him driving his car, a Citroen Berlingo, at Mr Grainge, who was out of his own car and was flipped on to the bonnet of Dr Hall’s vehicle. He ended up close to the windscreen and found himself face to face with the retired consultant physician in tropical medicine who was wearing a cricket helmet.

Mr Grainge, who was carried a few feet on the bonnet, managed to get off and get in his dark blue Mazda only to be followed into St Albans by Dr Hall flashing his lights, sounding his horn and making V signs.

Appearing at St Albans Crown Court, Dr Hall pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving on April 23, 2009. But the jury found him guilty and he was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling more than �4,000.

The court heard that the incident blew up when Mr Grainge left his home in Harpenden just after 6am to drive his wife Kay to work at Marks and Spencer in St Albans.

They followed Dr Hall’s Berlingo out of the town on to the A1081 towards St Albans. Just past Harpenden Common, the doctor was alleged to have braked hard, waved his arm out of the car and put on his hazard warning lights.

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Mr Grainge overtook the Berlingo but stopped when he saw the driver flash his lights, thinking something was wrong with his car or Dr Hall had a problem.

He went on: “I became aware the car was going to move off. He was revving his car and pulled out right and headed straight towards me. The Berlingo accelerated towards me. it hit my legs below my knee. It was only two to three miles per hour but it had the effect of flipping me on to the bonnet.

“I cantilevered over so that my face was almost up against the windscreen. The chap was wearing a helmet - a cricket crash helmet with bars across the front. He didn’t seem to acknowledge me at all. He had a very strange look on his face. He was staring straight ahead. I could only see his eyes because of the cricket helmet he was wearing.”

After getting back in his own car, Mr Grainge dropped his wife off at work and was passed by the Berlingo still with its lights on and the driver giving him a V sign.

Mr Grainge denied he had done anything to provoke Dr Hall or that he had been tailgating.

Dr Hall, who has previous convictions to do with losing his temper when driving, said that when he drove out of Harpenden that morning, he had been aware of Mr Grainge’s Mazda driving quite close behind his car.

He decided to pull over to allow the Mazda to overtake him only for it to stop 25 metres in front of his car. He maintained Mr Grainge got out of the car “gesticulating and shouting” leaving him fearful that he was going to break his wing mirror or smash his car.

He closed his window because he feared that he would be punched on the jaw and added: “He saw my cricket helmet on and then he turned around and went back to his car.”

Dr Hall, who denied driving his car at Mr Grainge, explained that he always wore a cricket helmet when driving to avoid the risk of serious injury or death on roads where the speed limit was more than 30 miles an hour.

Sentencing Dr Hall, Judge Marie Catterson said it was plain he was, “highly intelligent, articulate and well educated.”

But she went on: “In the last seven years you have developed an irrational obsession with the rules of the road and in particular being tailgated by other motorists who happen to be driving behind you.”

Dr Hall was fined �1,250 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of �2,800.