A couple who claimed they were chased in a road rage incident by someone whose driving they had earlier criticised have been praised for their “moral courage”.
Judge James McNulty said Aidan Power and his wife, Angelique Muller, had not been “busybodies” when they raised an incident of “fast and furious” driving with the motorist involved, Frank Cronin, of Apt 1, the Cornstore, Main St, Ballydehob, in West Cork.
Mr Cronin was convicted of careless driving following an incident in which Bantry District Court heard he had verbally abused Mr Power and his wife, had revved his car and turned to point his vehicle towards their vehicle, and had then followed them at close quarters as they drove up the road.
Mr Power said on Sunday morning, May 22 last year, he’d been with his wife and two children walking the dog at Barleycove beach. At 12.30pm they were leaving when they saw a car, driven by Mr Cronin, quickly reverse and leave the car park at high speed.
Mr Power said he commented on the man’s driving to someone else in the car park and the family then drove in the direction of their home, when they spotted the car pulled into a lay-by.
Mr Power and Ms Muller said they pulled in so Ms Muller could take a picture of the car’s licence plate. Mr Power then said to Mr Cronin that if he wished to kill himself [driving like that] it was his right but he had no right to endanger others.
The court heard Mr Cronin and his girlfriend, Stacie Edwards, shouted back and made abusive gestures. It was claimed Mr Cronin then turned and pointed his vehicle at Mr Power’s car, revving the engine, and that he followed the Powers’ vehicle.
Mr Power and his wife said their children were terrified and they decided to pull into the garden of someone they knew, at which point Mr Power jumped out and closed the gate. Mr Cronin drove away and was later questioned by gardaí, who had been contacted by the Power family over the incident.
In evidence, Mr Cronin said he and his girlfriend had had a row in the car park and he drove off from there while he was “cross”, but had still been in control of the car. At the lay-by he said all he and his girlfriend saw was someone — Ms Muller — with a phone apparently recording their ongoing row, which caused them to be upset.
Judge McNulty acquitted Mr Cronin of careless driving at the Barleycove car park, even if it seemed to have been “fast and furious”, but convicted him of careless driving arising out of the subsequent verbal altercation with Aidan Power and his family, stating: “His conduct was appalling.”
Judge McNulty said Mr Cronin’s evidence had sought to minimise what had happened “in a self-serving manner”, adding: “This was road rage. The law-abiding were on the run.”
The court heard Mr Cronin has previous convictions and Judge McNulty asked that a probation report be prepared on him.
He adjourned the matter until September.
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