Bailiff rage driver jailed for nine months for dangerous pursuit

The Advertiser Series: Durham Crown Court told that defendant "saw red" at bailiff's visit to collect unpaid fine. Durham Crown Court told that defendant "saw red" at bailiff's visit to collect unpaid fine.

A MAN saw red when a bailiff turned up at his house, accompanied by two police officers, seeking payment for an unpaid fine.

The enforcement agent left with cash covering the outstanding amount, money which aggrieved householder Christopher Elliott was keeping for Christmas.

Durham Crown Court heard Elliott’s parting comment to the bailiff was that he would lose his job, as, in his opinion, he acted unlawfully.

Martin Towers, prosecuting, said shortly after the bailiff left the street, Usher Avenue, in Sherburn Village, near Durham, Elliott set off in pursuit.

He was seen swerving onto the village Front Street, pulling up in his Vauxhall estate vehicle directly in front of the bailiff's Peugeot van.

The bailiff braked sharply, swerving to avoid a collision, but Elliott got out of his vehicle and kicked as the van passed.

He then took up the chase again and, travelling through nearby Sherburn Hill, twice pulled out parallel to the van, shunting sideways into it, in one case causing an oncoming female motorist to hurriedly brake to prevent a collision.

Eventually the bailiff was able to put a car between him and Elliott’s vehicle and rang police to report what had taken place.

He was advised to drive on towards a waiting police car, while Elliott appears to have then returned home.

Police called at the house minutes later and noted damage to the front of his vehicle.

Mr Towers said Elliott was “candid” about the manner of his driving, accepting it was “ridiculous”, dangerous to other road users, and conceding he “lost his head.”

The 39-year-old admitted dangerous driving at his first court appearance, but his original account was on the basis he did not shunt into the bailiff’s van.

He dropped that claim only at today’s hearing, eight months after the incident.

The court heard his actions caused £250 worth of damage to the van.

Nick Cartmell, mitigating, said: “He accepts what he did was dangerous and completely wrong.

“He asks me to express his total regret and contrition over the way he behaved that day.

“Sometimes in life, pressure, whether financially, domestically or socially, gets too much, and that’s what happened on that particular day.

“When that money, set aside for Christmas, was quite properly taken from him, he simply saw red and lost rational control.”

Mr Cartmell said things have improved for Elliott since the incident as he has set up a, so far, successful online used car parts business.

Jailing him for nine months, Judge Peter Kelson described it as, “a bad piece of dangerous driving."

“Mercifully, your victim was able to control his van and the only damage was to the two vehicles.”

The judge also banned Elliott from driving for a year.

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