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Rugby player jailed for road rage attack

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:15 24 February 2010

THE victim of an horrific road rage attack which almost left him blind in one eye has said he was “highly delighted” his attacker has been jailed for nine months.

THE victim of an horrific road rage attack which almost left him blind in one eye has said he was “highly delighted” his attacker has been jailed for nine months.

John Nash, from Chevington, was punched in the face after almost being run off the road by Philip Richardson, who subjected him to what he called “The most terrifying experience of my life”.

Jailing Richardson, Judge John Holt said he had put Mr Nash through an episode of “road bullying” and insisted a prison sentence was the only suitable punishment open to him.

A court heard yesterday Richardson, 27, had punched Mr Nash in the face after he wound down his car window at the end of a terrifying 30-minute night-time ordeal on the road between Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds.

Richardson, captain of Bury Rugby Club's third team, was convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court last year.

During the trial, Mr Nash said Richardson had tailgated him and had then overtaken at speed. A little further down the road Richardson braked, causing Mr Nash to swing round him to avoid a crash.

The jury was told Richardson then followed Mr Nash as he turned towards his home in Chevington and tried to run him off the road.

Mr Nash, 53, said his ordeal had ended when Richardson had approached his car and punched him in the face.

Sentencing him at Bury St Edmunds Crown Court yesterday, Judge Holt told Richardson: “Having wound down his window, first of all you swore at Mr Nash and then with your fist you struck him a blow in the face.

“You split his cheekbone and when he was taken to hospital, there was serious concern that he had also damaged his eye - fortunately, he had not.

“But the whole episode lasted a good 30 minutes and was deliberate on your part.

“You terrified your victim - I'm told that you are terrified at the prospects of a prison sentence. Perhaps you will appreciate how Mr Nash felt when he was followed and assaulted by you.”

Speaking last night after the case, Mr Nash said: “I think it's brilliant, I am absolutely delighted.”

Mr Nash, who admitted he still refused to drive along that road at night on his own, added: “I will never forget what happened. I was absolutely aghast and terrified that something like this could happen in a quiet country lane.

“It was a terrifying ordeal and he deserves it. I couldn't believe the emotional effect it had on me. In the evenings there is still no way I would contemplate going that way.”

Richardson, of Church Close, Rede, near Bury St Edmunds, sobbed as he was led from the dock.

Craig Rush, mitigating, said there was little he could say on the facts of the case, but added Richardson was a man who put a lot back into the community.

“He is heavily involved in the Bury Rugby Club. He is captain of the third team and responsible for the veterans team and, more importantly, for coaching the under 14s,” he said.

“He is generally considered to be a good and worthy member of the community and he is a man for whom prison holds considerable fear.

“He is a man who has very clearly learned his lesson. If he could turn the clock back, he would.

“He has full-time employment, but if he goes to prison today, that will go. He has a relationship which he considers long-term, but that too will go if he goes to prison.

“It (the offence) was a moment of stupidity and aggression. If ever a lesson needed to be learned, it has well and truly been learned by this defendant. He is a man terrified of the consequences of custody.”

During his trial, Richardson claimed Mr Nash had been driving erratically and he had followed him to talk about his driving.

Richardson said he had lashed out at Mr Nash after he (Mr Nash) had driven off and clipped his car with his wing mirror, causing him to fall backwards.

But Judge Holt said the claim there had been an element of provocation and self-defence in the case had been rejected by the jury.

Nicholas Medcroft, prosecuting, said Mr Nash was making a civil claim for compensation from Richardson. He added Mr Nash's glasses were broken in the attack and it cost him more than £300 to have them replaced.


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