herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Driver ranted 'you're a dead man' at clamper before crowbar attack

John Purdue admitted losing his temper when he confronted clamper Dean Weldrige as he was clamping his van
John Purdue admitted losing his temper when he confronted clamper Dean Weldrige as he was clamping his van

An irate driver threatened to kill a clamper before attacking him with a crowbar after the man clamped his van while it was parked illegally outside a bank.

The clamper feared for his life as John Purdue (59) "lost the rag" and ran at him with the bar, telling him, "Just because you are big doesn't mean you won't be taken down".

A court heard the victim was left with a torn knee ligament following the attack in north Dublin.

Purdue, who denied assault, was found guilty but spared jail and given a six-month suspended sentence.

His defence argued the injury was not consistent with victim Dean Weldridge's evidence, and suggested it happened as he fell during the struggle. Purdue insisted he dropped the crowbar and never hit Mr Weldridge with it.

Judge Dermot Simms said he was satisfied that an assault took place and an injury was caused. It was a serious assault on someone employed to carry out the difficult task of parking enforcement, he said.

Purdue, of Belcamp Avenue, Priorswood, had pleaded not guilty to assaulting Mr Weldridge at Northern Cross, Malahide Road, on September 12, 2016.

Mr Weldridge said he came across the accused's van between 10.30am and 11am.

It was in a big yellow box and signs clearly stated that there was no parking at any time.

He attached a clamp to the wheel. He was down on one knee when Purdue came running towards him, shouting threats. Purdue "barged" him with his knees and told him he was "going to kill me if I didn't take the clamp off".

"He screamed at me, 'that is my van, do not touch my van'," Mr Weldridge said.

He told the accused he was only doing his job.

"He started threatening me again, he threatened to kill me, he said if I didn't take the clamp off I was a dead man," Mr Weldridge said.

The accused got into his van and was on the phone to someone saying: "Let's get up here and sort this big fella out."

Purdue tried to break the clamp by driving back and forth over it while it was still attached. The accused got more frustrated and realised the clamp was not going to come off and got out of the van.

"He said I was after breaking his van," Mr Weldridge told the court, adding that the accused repeated that he was a "dead man".

The accused circled the van, disappeared behind it and reappeared holding a crowbar.

"He then approached me, telling me if it's not off in five seconds, God love me," Mr Weldridge said.

He froze, in fear for his life and the accused "came at me and tried to hit me in the head with" the crowbar.

He was saying "just because you are big doesn't mean you won't be taken down", Mr Weldridge said.

Spitting

Mr Weldridge went into "survival mode", dived in and grabbed hold of the accused, he continued.

Purdue hit him from the back with the crowbar, screaming and spitting at him. Mr Weldridge fell on top of him, restrained him and got the bar off him.

Mr Weldridge was "full of adrenaline" and it was only when he put his weight on his foot that he realised his "knee was gone".

He suffered a torn ligament and said his knee was "completely shot" for nine months.

In cross-examination, Mr Weldridge said it was "absolute lies" that he bear-hugged the accused, who had dropped the bar.

Defence solicitor Declan Fahy put it to him that he twisted his knee while falling in a scuffle with the accused.

"Possibly, possibly not," he replied.

Purdue said in evidence he went to the bank and was back three-and-a-half minutes later to find his van being clamped.

He accepted he was aggrieved and "had words" with Mr Weldridge, who he said was "standing there".

He said he got the crowbar from his van to remove the clamp but it fell onto the ground as he jumped down.

"The clamper came and grabbed me, we both fell on the ground," he said.

Judge Simms noted a prior injury on the medical report meant the injury happened to a "dicky knee".

The accused, who has a grown family, had no prior convictions. On the day, he had a "rush of blood to the head" and "lost the rag", Mr Fahy said.

Purdue told the Herald last night that despite avoiding jail, he was still unhappy with the outcome of the case.

"I'm definitely not satisfied with the outcome. I got six months suspended sentence which I thought was very unfair.

He again denied the assault, saying: "He's in his 20s and 6ft 4ins and I'm nearly 60 and 5ft 6ins and he said I attacked him?".

Purdue added: "I ran into the bank and spent three-and-a-half minutes there, but when I got back to my van the clamper had everything done. I felt hard done by, but I admit maybe I shouldn't have attempted to remove the clamp myself with a crowbar."

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