Burnley College lecturer could lose job over ‘road rage’ attack

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“A MOMENT of madness” road rage attack could cost a Burnley College lecturer his job – a court was told.

Father-of-two William Joseph Haddock (42) punched elderly motorist Douglas Denson in the head, after yanking open his car door and screaming at him that he was driving like an idiot after an incident on the Gannow roundabout. Mr Denson, whose wife was shouting that he had a heart condition, said that the assault was totally unprovoked, he was left with scratches and had to go to hospital, Burnley magistrates heard.

Haddock claimed that he had been livid because Mr Denson cut him up and his two children, who were in the vehicle, could have been injured. The defendant, who is an IT lecturer, school governor, external verifier for the Oxford and Cambridge Examinations Board and voluntary church youth worker, had been suspended from the college since the incident on December 23rd last year. He faced losing his job as well as the other positions, on conviction. The defendant fought back tears as his solicitor, Mr John Nuttall, told the hearing: ”He and his family are going to lose everything that they have.”

Haddock, of Brockenhurst Street, Burnley, admitted assault by beating. He was given a 12-month community order, with 66 hours of unpaid work and must pay £100 compensation and £50 costs. He had no previous convictions.

Prosecutor Parveen Akhtar told the court that just after midday, Mr Denson was at the Gannow roundabout with his wife and 13-year-old grandaughter in his car. He pulled out to go to Burnley town centre.

A vehicle pulled in front and forced him to stop. Haddock got out, yanked opened his car door and began punching him in the head.

Miss Akhtar said that another driver intervened and Haddock ran back to his vehicle. Mr Denson was prescribed pain killers and said that since the assault his left eye streamed as well as suffering blurred vision and an aching neck. The defendant’s car registration number had been noted and he was later questioned by police. He claimed Mr Denson took a swipe at him and he had grabbed him. He denied punching him.

Mr Nuttall (defending) told the hearing that the defendant said that Mr Denson had pulled out in front of him, cut him up and he had to swerve to avoid a collision. It was a near-miss and he had feared for his children’s safety. He knew he shouldn’t have done it.

Other drivers had caused him problems at the roundabout before and “this was the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

Mr Nuttall said that the “moment of madness” would cost the defendant a lot. The family would lose their home and Haddock’s wife was suffering from depression because of what happened.

The solicitor said that the defendant believed that he would lose his job and that his family would struggle. But, he said, Haddock’s children mattered more and he feared that he was going to lose them the day of the incident.

Mr Nuttall added: ”The amount that is going to be lost by the defendant and his family far outweighs the momentary loss of control.”