Wedding photographer convicted following parking dispute

Wedding photographer convicted following parking dispute

A MAN has been convicted of 'common assault' in connection with a parking dispute outside his home.

Darren Best (36), a wedding photographer, of Gransha Wood, Dundonald, had denied 'assault' of Chloe McCabe on September 26 last year.

During a contest hearing at Newtownards Magistrates' Court, Chloe McCabe said her friend had visited her home and around 11pm Best knocked on her door and asked if one of her friend's cars was parked at a space near his house.

She said the defendant became "aggressive" and was "swearing" and said it was his "space".

The court heard that although Best had not physically assaulted Ms McCabe she was put in fear of assault which can constitute assault.

Ms McCabe told the court the defendant told her if she ever parked in his space again he would "drag me by my hair, grab me by the throat and smash my face off the car".

She said: "I was very scared".

Arlene Matchett , who had been baby-sitting for Best on the day in question, told the court the defendant had made the remark and it was "directed at Chloe".

Best told the court he had returned home and although annoyed about parking he denied making such a remark.

He claimed he had told his partner if Ms McCabe came anywhere near her to "grab her by the hair".

Best told the court there had been a meeting previously about parking in the area and people had agreed to keep one space free for each house.

Convicting the defendant of common assault, District Judge Mark Hamill said the case was "yet another example of a tedious, childish, neighbourhood dispute, this one over parking spaces. I am weary".

The judge said although there had been no contact, 'assault' can involve a fear of immediate violence.

He said the defendant had made an "extremely specific and detailed threat" about dragging Ms McCabe's hair, grabbing her throat and smashing her face off a car.

Following the conviction, a defence lawyer said the defendant was "very regretful".

Judge Hamill said Best had lost "the run of himself" after getting home after a long day at work and finding nowhere to park.

Best was bound over to keep the peace for two years in the sum of £500.