‘Road rage’ man is found guilty — (This is Plymouth)

SSRI Ed note: Man taking antidepressants, painkillers threatens young pair while driving. They are worried enough to contact police. He is charged, found guilty.

Original article no longer available

This is Plymouth

Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 20:30

A PLYMOUTH driver threatened two men with a knife in a road rage incident, a court has been told.

Johnnie Heightley, aged 54, of Berrow Park Road, Peverell, appeared before Plymouth magistrates yesterday.

Dressed in a smart grey suit and carrying a walking stick, Heightley pleaded not guilty to a charge of holding a four-inch knife in a public place and two charges of assault.

The court heard that on August 1 at around 7.20pm, Heightley had gone to Domino’s on Mutley Plain to order take-away pizzas for his family.

He was driving home along Mutley Plain in his Citroen C4 with Ashley Abel and Paul Withers travelling in Mr Abel’s Rover behind him, the court heard.

Heightley then indicated to turn right onto Mannamead Road near the Hyde Park pub, but suddenly turned left onto Hyde Park Road, cutting in front of Mr Abel, the court heard. Both cars then came to a halt near the Co-op store on Peverell Park Road.

Mr Abel told the court: “There was a car up in front of me that was turning right near the Hyde Park pub. Then the car came out to my lane and carried on straight so I slammed my brakes on and sounded the horn to let him know I was there.

“He was pointing and telling me off because he thought I was in the wrong. He got out of the vehicle near Co-op and started walking towards my car. He was shouting ‘Come on, come on!’ I didn’t know what he was going to do – I thought he was going to drag me out of the car. He laughed at me then got back in his car and drove off. ”

Heightley then turned right along a side road towards his house, but Mr Abel and Mr Withers then spotted him behind them on Peverell Park Road, the court heard.

Mr Abel said: “His car pulled level with mine. He pulled a knife out of a leather case and started to wave it around – he was laughing while he was doing it.”

Mr Withers, aged 18, said: “I saw him pointing at us and pulling his finger across his throat three or four times. I rang the police. I turned around to try and see the registration number and I saw something shine. He was nearly ramming into the back of us.”

Heightley who is 80 per cent disabled and retired due to illness, is on medication including anti-depression tablets and painkillers, the court heard.

He denied taking out a knife and mouthing “you’re dead”.

He said: “I opened the glove compartment and took out a silver Parker pen and piece of paper and wrote down the registration number and the colour and make of car.”

The fact that a knife was in his car was down to coincidence, he added.

“I’ve been a fireman in the Royal Navy for 22 years and an Outward Bound instructor for 10 years – our motto is ‘carry a knife to save a life’,” he said.

“I did pursue them because I needed their registration number.”

He said he kept the knife, one of the few items he has of his dead son, in case it would be necessary to cut car seatbelts and kept the torch in case he broke down.

He denied pulling his finger across his throat and said he simply wanted to show that older people are not always afraid of youngsters.

Magistrates found Heightley guilty on all counts and he was remanded on unconditional bail for sentencing on January 22.