A JUDGE has likened a St Austell man's actions to a rabid dog after he pursued a terrified family in a high- speed car chase in one of the "worst incidents" of road rage he had encountered.
Timothy Dunn's behaviour was described as being like something from a horror movie, the judge comparing the chase across the Cornish countryside to 1971 Stephen Spielberg film Duel, where a terrified motorist is stalked on a remote and lonely road by the driver of a tanker truck.
Appearing at Truro Crown Court yesterday 22-year-old Dunn, of Clarence Road, was sentenced to 15 months in jail after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and affray.
Adrian Chaplin, for the prosecution, said that on April 1 this year James and Sarah-Jane Bradley were on holiday in Cornwall with their six-year-old twin daughters.
They were on the A390 near St Blazey, heading east, when their black Audi was involved in a collision with Dunn's Ford Focus.
Both parties thought the other was responsible for the crash but as they pulled over the Bradleys and another witness said Dunn appeared "angry and furious".
He said: "Mr Dunn went up to the vehicle and he acknowledges that he did strike with his hands on the area of the driver's door and that he did attempt to open the door."
Rather than staying to exchange details Mr Bradley drove off, only to be chased by Dunn.
Mr Chaplin said: "For the next 20 to 30 minutes the driving involved Mr Bradley seeking to put distance and vehicles between himself and Mr Dunn.
Mr Dunn, a plasterer, seeking to frustrate those ambitions, drove fast, driving in cross-hatchings, overtaking on double white lines and tailgating the Audi when he could."
The Bradleys made five terrified phone calls to police begging for help.
During one, the sound of their car being rammed could be heard. The family eventually sought refuge in a car park in Liskeard after being chased for 15 to 20 miles, where they were met by police.
Mr Chaplin said repairs to their car cost £8,000, a result of being rammed by Dunn.
Barry Hilliard, for the defence, said Dunn did not know why he had been so angry for so long and that he was likely to lose his job if he went to jail, but Judge Christopher Harvey Clark told the defendant: "This is one of the worst cases of road rage that I have ever encountered.
"The extent and nature of the course of conduct that you undertook must have terrified Mr and Mrs Bradley and their young daughters," he said.
"You were frothing at the mouth in a way reminiscent of a dog suffering from rabies."