Couple in car attack terror

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A WIGAN couple suffered an horrific attack in their car by a man who had stormed out of his home after trashing it in a domestic row.

While John Dunkerley and his long term partner were having a row their dog escaped and after she went to look for it he followed in his Volvo. As he drove along nearby Bellgreen Lane, Higher Ince, a couple driving the other way saw him swerving from side to side at speed.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the couple, Robert and Janet Markland saw the missing dog and took the view that Dunkerley was trying to run it over. As their two vehicles met their wing mirrors collided and were damaged but as Dunkerley drove off the couple also continued on their way.

However, Mr Markland then saw that the Volvo had turned round and it caught up and overtook their Fiat. Meanwhile Dunkerley’s partner, Belinda O’Malley had caught the dog, said Karen Brooks, prosecuting.

“The Volvo swerved in front which caused Mr Markland to brake sharply. The defendant jumped out and his attitude was aggressive and he was wild eyed and said ‘you’ve just run my dog over’ and punched the driver’s window.

“He broke the window and also started to punch Mr Markland through the window three times. Mrs Markland got out to let her husband get across as he could not get out on his side. As she got out the defendant moved towards her and she held up her walking stick horizontally to protect herself,” said Mrs Brooks.

“He grabbed it and tried to pull it from her as he went to hit her she cowered down shouting ‘Bob’ in terror and felt a blow to the top of her head and a punch to her left cheek. Mr Markland came to his wife’s assistance and there was a clash of heads between the defendant and Mr Markland as both had hold of the walking stick.

“Mr Markland managed to take hold of it and hit him with it to ward him off. The defendant got into the Volvo and drove off at speed.”

A police vehicle which was going to the original incident stopped at the scene and spoke to the couple. Mr Markland’s expensive spectacles were damaged in the incident and he suffered a cut under his right eye and his wife had a red mark and swelling to his left cheek and red mark to the top of her head. They were both very shaken by the incident, said Mrs Brooks.

She told the court that 52-year-old Dunkerley has already been dealt with for damaging a window at his home in the initial incident that day, July 28 last year.

Dunkerley, of Ennerdale Place, Ince, pleaded guilty to dangerous and disqualified driving, two offences of common assault, criminal damage and driving without insurance and failing to stop after an accident.

The court heard that he has numerous previous convictions many for motoring, including six for disqualified driving.

Sentencing him Judge Stephen Clarke said, “Your behaviour on that day was extraordinary. The damage you caused to your own home must have run into hundreds and hundreds of pounds.

“When you drove you knew you were in trouble because you had not passed an extended driving test. You drove in a bizarre way and used violence towards a couple who must have been shocked and traumatised.”

The judge said that although he has previous convictions he has shown the ability to keep out of trouble for long periods of time. He sentenced him to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered him to attend a New Direction activity requirement. He also disqualified him from driving for three years.

Raquel Simpson, defending, said that Dunkerley, who takes medication for diabetes, is now working as a car workshop foreman.

At the time he was under considerable pressure from the Inland Revenue who were trying to make his motor vehicle business bankrupt. “He apologises to the couple and his partner for acting in an aggressive and uncontrollable behaviour,” she said.