Violent thug jailed for Sheffield motorway road rage incident

A violent thug, who punched a teenage girl and her boyfriend during an incident of road rage on a Sheffield slip road, has been put behind bars.

Friday, 26th January 2018, 3:10 pm
Updated Saturday, 27th January 2018, 4:00 pm
A violent thug, who punched a teenage girl and her boyfriend during an incident of road rage on a Sheffield slip road, has been put behind bars.

Deborah Smithies, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court how the incident began when defendant, Jason Wheatcroft, 'undertook' an 18-year-old woman in a Vauxhall Corsa, as both cars were travelling near to Junction 1 of the M18 on August 12, 2016.

Ms Smithies said that as the young woman left the M18 to join the M1 she could hear Wheatcroft, who was travelling behind her in a Ford Mondeo vehicle, shouting insults at her.

The young woman, who only passed her test a few weeks before the incident took place, was travelling with her boyfriend in the passenger seat, and two friends in the back of the vehicle, the court heard.

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Ms Smithies added: "She came off the motorway at the next junction, but the lights turned red. As she waited, the defendant got out of his car, approached her drivers' side window, which was rolled down, and punched her in the face.

"The defendant walked back towards his car, but the girl's boyfriend followed him and asked him what he thought he was doing, punching an 18-year-old girl.

"The defendant reached in to his car, reached into his car, took hold of something that the second complainant thought was a key, made a fist around it, and then punched him in the face."

Wheatcroft, aged 35, drove off a short time later, but the group managed to get a picture of his registration plate and reported the incident to police.

In victim impact statements read out in court, the young woman said the incident had left her with depression, anxiety and insomnia, had led to her quitting her job and meant she was too afraid to drive on her own unless she had a family member waiting on the phone.

At around 6.30pm the following day, Ms Smithies told the court how Wheatcroft violently lashed out again at a stranger who was celebrating an engagement with his friends and family at Lloyds bar in High Street, Sheffield City Centre.

Wheatcroft bumped into his third victim as he was taking a photograph of several members of his family.

"The man told the defendant he was just taking a photo. The defendant turned, walked aggressively towards him, and punched him in the face," said Ms Smithies, adding: "The blow broke his two front teeth. He went to hospital for treatment, and needed seven or eight stitches, but hadn't fractured anything thankfully."

The man had to have dentistry work costing £1,431.50 following the incident, the court was told.

Wheatcroft, of Spa Lane Croft, Woodhouse, pleaded guilty to a string of offences relating to the two incidents including unlawful wounding and assault occasioning actual bodily harm at an earlier hearing.

Richard Sheldon, defending, told the court that a witness in the back of the car driven by the young woman Wheatcroft attacked had given a different account of the incident, and described how she had shouted: 'I can't go any faster' at the defendant, before swearing at him.

Mr Sheldon said this did not justify Wheatcroft's behaviour, but explained what may have acted as the catalyst for his 'uncharacteristic' bout of rage.

Mr Sheldon conceded that Wheatcroft committing violent offences on two consecutive days could be viewed as an aggravating factor, but added that they had taken place while he was in a period of depression, and was struggling to sleep due to having a new baby.

The baby was in the back of his car during the slip road incident, the court was told.

Judge Robert Moore sentenced Wheatcroft to 30-months in prison.

He told him: "Despite your considerable personal mitigation, your offending is so serious that only a sentence of immediate custody can be justified."