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M20 road rage thug's pepper spray attack

Scales of justice
Scales of justice

by Julia Roberts

A motorist squirted pepper spray at another driver's face in a road-rage incident on the M20.

Christopher Murray grabbed the illegal weapon from his van after he was pushed by Stuart Homewood, a court heard today.

Maidstone Crown Court was told the two men confronted each other following what was described as a "number of poor driving incidents" on the motorway on August 8.

Mr Homewood, who was driving a 4x4 with his wife and two children aged six and nine, was sprayed directly in the face by Murray after the two men had stopped at a roundabout near the bottom of Blue Bell Hill.

The father-of-two felt a burning sensation and was unable to see for half an hour.

Other passing motorists came to his aid - while 45-year-old Murray drove off.

But the court heard he went straight to a police station and reported what he had done.

He told officers he had acted in self-defence but went "over the top".

He said he had bought the spray after he was the victim of a violent burglary in 2005 and did not know it was illegal.

Prosecutor Helen Fleck said, however, that it was not accepted by the Crown that Mr Homewood had been the aggressor and committed the first act of violence.

But Judge Philip St John-Stevens said he believed that Murray was pushed first, only to react excessively, and imposed an eight-month jail term suspended for 18 months.

He added that custody would have been inevitable had Murray, of Hackney Road, Maidstone, been the aggressor.

"It must have been not only frightening for the victim but also his children who were in the car," the judge remarked.

"But in your favour you immediately realised your reaction was disproportionate and went immediately to the police station.

"That demonstrates real remorse for the lack of control you exhibited, something which was clearly out of character."

Judge St John-Stevens added that he also accepted that the former antique Jaguar dealer had not pursued Mr Homewood to confront him but had come across him "by chance" at the roundabout.

As part of his sentence Murray, who admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and possession of a prohibited weapon, must carry out 100 hours unpaid work and pay Mr Homewood £650 compensation.

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