Truckie’s road-rage ram threat ‘terrifying’
May 19, 2011 – 12:23PM
CCTV tailgater gets jail sentence
A truck driver captured on CCTV tailgating a small car in the Burnley Tunnel is handed down an eight-month prison sentence.
A truck driver who threatened to ram another driver during a “terrifying” ordeal in the Burnley Tunnel has been given a jail sentence.
Geoffrey Robert Bartholomew, 39, drove as close to a metre behind his 30-year-old victim as he tail-gated her through the tunnel just before 9am on March 4, 2011.
He flashed his semi-trailer’s lights and repeatedly threatened to crash into her as he slowed his truck and sped up behind her in the far right-hand lane, the Melbourne Magistrates Court heard today.
Bartholomew, of Endeavour Hills, pleaded guilty to one charge of dangerous driving after CityLink cameras captured his road rage.
Magistrate Jack Vandersteen said the footage showed the woman had nowhere to go as Bartholomew closed in on her.
“We’ve all been frightened by a driver that’s come up on us like that…it would have been terrifying,” he said.
VicRoads prosecutor Marcus Nash asked that Bartholomew be fined and have his licence cancelled for a year.
But Mr Vandersteen said Bartholomew’s offending was so serious it warranted a jail term.
He sentenced the father of two to eight months’ jail, to be suspended for 12 months, and cancelled his licence for a year.
The victim, known as ‘Christine,’ today told radio station 3AW the court had imposed a ‘‘big penalty’’.
‘‘I certainly don’t regret bringing it up,’’ she said. ‘‘I hope all the truck drivers in the community learn from it.’’
Mr Vandersteen said “it was very fortunate” Bartholomew hadn’t crashed into the woman, and could have driven onto the top of her small silver Toyota Corolla and killed her and others.
Mr Nash told the court it was the worst example of dangerous driving he had seen in his three years as a prosecutor.
He said the victim was still distressed when he interviewed her nearly three hours after the incident.
VicRoads was alerted to her ordeal when she rang radio 3AW.
Bernie Balmer, for Bartholomew, said his client, who was supported in court by his ex-wife, had a clean licence and no previous driving offences despite driving about 1000 kilometres each week.
He said he suffered from depression, and had reduced his anti-depression medication and was not coping on the day.
Mr Balmer said Bartholomew was “extremely remorseful” and would lose his $50,000 income with the loss of his licence.
He said the truck driver had been frustrated with the woman because his revs had dropped as they travelled through the tunnel.
The court heard two days after harrasing the woman, Bartholomew’s father was killed in a motorcylce accident and he was distressed when he made his statement to police the next day.
Mr Vandersteen said Bartholomew’s impeccable driving record was impressive, given his professional driving career had lasted longer than a decade; he had cooperated with authorities; and pleaded guilty early.
But he said his driving had terrified the victim and put the lives of other drivers at risk.
“It is clear that this could have led to an outcome that was catastrophic,” Mr Vandersteen said.
VicRoads metropolitan north-west regional director Nial Finegan welcomed the sentence. ‘‘This guy has paid a big price for his decision on the day,’’ he told 3AW.
Mr Finegan said it was lucky nobody was hurt or killed.
‘‘This was a deliberate act,’’ he said. ‘‘She was subjected to this for two-and-a-half minutes.’’