A DUMBARTON man has been repeatedly warned by a sheriff over his conduct in court as he defends himself on a dangerous driving charge.
James Gillespie, 60, of Leven Court, West Bridgend, denies an accusation of driving dangerously on the A814 Dumbarton-Helensburgh road.
Mr Gillespie has been accused of failing to comply with a left-hand turn road marking at a roundabout, attempting to overtake another vehicle dangerously, driving in an aggressive manner, failing to observe an adequate stopping distance to another vehicle, attempting to overtake it, driving alongside it, repeatedly driving towards it and repeatedly braking harshly, causing the other vehicle's driver to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
The incident is alleged to have happened on the A814 at and near a roundabout at Hermitage Academy in Helensburgh at around 5.40pm on August 22, 2015.
Mr Gillespie also faces a charge of failing to tell the police who was driving the vehicle involved in the incident, as required by section 172 of the Road Traffic Act .
But in the course of cross-examining a police officer who attended Mr Gillespie's home address to speak to him after the incident was reported, the relevance of Mr Gillespie's line of questioning was repeatedly queried by Sheriff Simon Pender.
Mr Gillespie said of the police: “They hadn't a clue what they were doing.”
Sheriff Pender replied: “So what? The issues for the court today are did you, or did you not, comply with the section 172 requirement, and whether or not your driving fell below the standard to the extent that you should be convicted under section 2 [of the Act].”
Mr Gillespie replied: “I would say that what the police officer is saying isn't 100 per cent true.”
The sheriff said: “What is the relevance of this line of inquiry to the issues before the court?
“We have, some time, got to get to the end of this. Are you just here to carpet the police because they don't do things the way you think they should be doing them?
“I have a complaint properly brought before the court by the Crown against you. You may think all of this means the police are wasting money, but that's got no bearing on whether you are guilty or not guilty of the charges on this complaint.
“You can take the issue of whether the police's actions were a waste of money up with your MP or MSP.
“This is a trial which ordinarily would be over well within a day. You've got to get to the point. Otherwise we're going to be here for weeks.”
Mr Gillespie again accused the police witness of “lying”, to which the sheriff replied: “I've told you several times: this is an opportunity for you to ask questions of the witness, not to enter into an argument, and not to give evidence yourself.”
The driver of the other vehicle involved in the alleged incident told the court his journey from Helensburgh towards Dumbarton that evening was “horrendous”.
He said Mr Gillespie had tried to overtake him on the inside lane of the roundabout, which is marked with a 'left-turn only' arrow for entrance to Hermitage Academy.
“I was approaching the roundabout in the outer lane,” the witness said. “He [Mr Gillespie] tried to force his way to the front. My vehicle's back wheel scuffed the kerb on the central reservation of the roundabout.
“He was determined to get off the roundabout before I did.
“He was tailgating me directly after the roundabout. Within moments he was on my right-hand side. He came up to the side of me and started drawing his car in.
“Once I applied my brakes he overtook me. He started pumping his brakes. He did it twice.
“When I saw the road was clear I overtook him. But I had my whole car in front of him and he speeded up. The thought in my head was just to get out of this situation.”
The witness said his daughter, who was in the back left-hand seat of his car at the time, was “hysterical” because Mr Gillespie's vehicle was “inches away” from his own as he went round the roundabout.
Mr Gillespie denies both charges; the trial was adjourned until March 24.