Learner driver who threatened to kill examiner and instructor avoids jail

Burnley Magistrates' Court.
Burnley Magistrates' Court.

An irate learner who threatened to kill the examiner and his instructor after he failed his driving test minutes after it started, has today walked free from court.

Antony Kevin Alltree (25) who had already taken a test last August and was said to have spent more than £2,500 trying to pass it, "kicked off" and terrorised John Williams and Kenneth Spencer, repeatedly swearing at the pair and refusing to calm down, a court was told.

Burnley Magistrates' Court was told how jobless Alltree flew into a rage after he was stopped from going across a junction on the test. Mr Williams, an examiner with a decade of experience behind him, had applied the brakes on the dual controls as he thought Alltree didn't have time to get across.

The furious defendant, who branded the decision "ridiculous," told Mr Williams: "You wouldn't have done that if you knew who I was." He got out of the car and slammed the door shut. When instructor Mr Spencer got out and tried to calm Alltree down he threatened : "All I have to do is make one phone call and you are both dead. I will kill you. I know where you are."

The court was told Mr Spencer got in the vehicle and it was driven back to the Nelson test centre on Cobden Street, as Alltree chased behind after it. Mr Williams was so shaken by the defendant's outburst, the like of which he has never seen before, he was unable to carry out any more tests that day.

Alltree admitted using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour at Nelson on February 9th. The defendant, of Eagle Street, Nelson and also Somerset Grove, Accrington, had earlier pleaded guilty on a basis, claiming he did not make a death threat to the two men but had an "altercation " with the examiner and made a threat of physical violence. The court heard he told the police: "I called him a p**** and said I would kick his head in. That's what I said."

The case had been adjourned for a trial over the facts, but Alltree later accepted he did say the things the victims reported, in temper and frustration. Alltree was given a 24-month community order, with the RESOLVE programme and a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement. He must pay a £60 victim surcharge, £50 compensation to the examiner and £85 costs.

Prosecutor Andrew Robinson had told an earlier hearing Alltree was taking his test at 8-20am. Mr Spencer had been teaching the defendant to drive for eight months and was in the examiner's vehicle when the test was taking place

The defendant set off from the Nelson Driving Test Centre, headed towards the town centre and came to a junction at a roundabout in Scotland Road. Mr Robinson continued: "The examiner says as he approached the first of two roundabouts, he stopped at the junction to give way and then decided it was OK to set off. The examiner didn't agree with the decision and he applied the brakes on the dual controls as he felt there was not enough time for him to get across the junction safely. Mr Alltree didn't respond well to that and said there had been no need to do that as he had enough time."

The prosecutor said words were exchanged and by this time Alltree was swearing and saying it was ridiculous and became more agitated and angry. Mr Williams asked him to pull over where it was safe on Surrey Road near to the roundabouts. At that point, Alltree was described as saying: "You wouldn't have done that if you knew who I was."

Mr Robinson went on: "The instructor got out to try and calm him down and the defendant said, 'All I have to do is make one phone call and you are both dead. I will kill you'. He was repeatedly swearing at the instructor and examiner.

"The instructor got in the car and it was driven back towards the test centre. Mr Alltree was chasing the car. They drove back and about 10 minutes later, he was there, banging on the door and they phoned the police at that point."

Mr Robinson said Mr Williams told police he had been an examiner for 10 years and had never before witnessed such behaviour on a test. He couldn't continue working that day and felt shocked and shaken. The prosecutor continued: "The instructor said he was very shaken up and scared. He says he is only not 5ft 2in. and Mr Alltree is considerably taller. He has not experienced anything like that before."

The prosecutor added both victims were public servants. He said: "Both feared for their safety." The court heard Alltree had 11 previous offences on his record, which included disorderly behaviour.

Graeme Parkinson (defending) said he suffered from ADHD, had anger management issues and had been diagnosed with severe anxiety. A driving test was a very stressful situation and he dealt very badly with stressful situations.

The solicitor continued: "Antony, has for many years, found it very difficult to cope with stressful situations and you probably can't imagine anything more stressful than taking your driving test."

Mr Parkinson told the court :" He accepts, though does not necessarily recollect, speaking in the way that has been outlined by the prosecution. He accepts he probably did say those things in temper and frustration."

The solicitor told the hearing: "He accepts he lost his temper. He accepts he got out of the vehicle and then realised he didn't have his licence and he says a subsequent attempt to follow the vehicle was primarily to try and recover his driving licence."

Mr Parkinson said Alltree had been out of trouble for three years and was a carer for his partner. They presented as a loving couple. He added: "He accepts full culpability for his actions on the day in question. He accepts he does have problems and he does have problems with controlling his temper. He does apologise for his behaviour and accepts his behaviour was unacceptable."

Sentencing, Deputy District Judge Rod Ross told the defendant: "I think you realise now just how serious the situation was. You were totally out of control. You frightened both the examiner and your own driving instructor, to such an extent they were both wanting to make statements against you to the police and they are both of exactly the same view of what you said and you did."

The deputy district judge said the offence had come very close to crossing the custody threshold, but he was sparing the defendant because he had pleaded guilty, expressed remorse and at last seemed to understand he had problem that needed sorting out.

After the case, Alltree said: "I shouldn't have done it." He said he had been given an opportunity by the judge and intended to grab it with both hands. The defendant said: "I feel the judge has given me a chance to change my life and I hope to be able to do that."