A white van driver who terrorised a young family as he chased them inches from their rear bumper, has been jailed.
Gareth Bedford, 41, was convicted of dangerous driving after the passenger told the court he was so close he could have reached out and touched the van.
Bedford, who runs his own business with staff up and down the country, denied he was driving dangerously when he pursued the Smith family on the M6 on July 16 last year.
During the chase, Bedford repeatedly pulled out in front of the car driven by Emma Smith, before braking sharply, and at one point seemed to try and pull the wing mirror off their vehicle as he passed, inches away from them.
Cameron and Emma Smith - who were travelling with their one-year-old daughter and puppy - were so frightened by Bedford’s driving they tried to leave the motorway at Charnock Richard Services, but Bedford followed them through the service station and back onto the motorway.
As the terrified family changed their route in a bid to flee their tormentor, Bedford also followed them into Leyland where the chase came to an end when he shunted their car as they stopped in King Street. During a trial at Preston Crown Court Bedford, of Raven Flatt Barn, Bell Busk, denied he was driving dangerously and said Mr Smith and been the aggressor making rude gestures at him on the M6.
Mrs Smith was scared, especially at one point when you opened your driver’s doorJudge Heather Lloyd
But Judge Heather Lloyd, sentencing, said: “Mrs Smith was scared, especially at one point when you opened your driver’s door.
“It is no coincidence you followed them into Leyland.
“Mr Smith still thinks about the incident and the consequences of what might have been. I accept that the loss of your licence will cause hardship for you and your family - it does for everyone who loses their licence.
“Those of us who drive vehicles must remember we are driving potentially lethal weapons, particularly when driving at speed. I have no doubt the Smiths were frightened because what you were doing was dangerous and persistent for a number of miles.
“It is very fortunate indeed there was not a serious accident involving this young family.
“Your behaviour that day was angry, aggressive and dangerous.”
She jailed Bedford for four months and banned him from driving for two years. He will have to take an extended retest if he wishes to drive again in the future