12:01pm Sunday 18th May 2014
By Bruce Unwin
A TEENAGE motorist drove aggressively along the A1(M) before pointing a BB gun at a motorist who had flashed his lights at him.
Alexander Stephenson, of Neasham Road, Darlington, was given a two-year sentence in a young offenders’ institution after a judge branded his behaviour as “immature”.
The young businessman was convicted of dangerous driving and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause a fear of violence, charges he denied, following a two-day trial at Durham Crown Court last month.
He was remanded in custody before his sentence on Friday (May 16).
Despite the ‘guilty’ verdicts, the court heard 19-year-old Stephenson continued to cast blame on the other motorist in his Probation Service interview.
Paul Currer, prosecuting, said the incident happened between Darlington and Newton Aycliffe, shortly after 8pm on November 22.
The defendant, whose girlfriend was a front seat passenger, pulled out swiftly into the outside lane after joining the southbound dual carriageway in his Land Rover Discovery.
It caused a builder travelling behind to flash his lights, thinking Stephenson may be asleep at the wheel.
But, in response Stephenson tail-gated the builder before pulling alongside and pointing the imitation BB gun through an open window towards him while travelling at about 70-mph.
The incident was later reported to police and Stephenson was arrested.
Stephenson, who runs his own furniture business, said he had used the BB gun for target practice and was taking it home.
Tom Mitchell, mitigating, who handed several character references to the court, said: “When convicted by the jury he was termed an ‘arrogant young man’.
“Well those few weeks he has spent in custody while on remand have probably been the worst time in his life and taken any arrogance out of him.
“The testimonials I have presented to the court paint a different picture as to the character of a 19-year-old man who has never previously been before a court.”
Jailing him, Judge Christopher Prince told Stephenson: “You are probably more an immature young man as opposed to an outright arrogant person.
“Nevertheless, this was a potentially very dangerous piece of driving and it was only the composure and common sense of the other driver that prevented a potentially more serious situation.”
Judge Prince banned Stephenson from driving for two years and ordered him to pay £2,800 costs within six months.
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