March 9 2014 Latest news:
Tom Bristow, Reporter
Friday, July 20, 2012
An antiques dealer, who set up a speed watch scheme in his Norfolk village, yesterday described his relief at being cleared of dangerous driving.
Adam Raphael was accused of cutting up a horse and cart with his Nissan van, causing the horse to bolt, as it was going through Briston on June 6 last year.
He was also charged with ABH for allegedly injuring farmer Martin Holden, who was a passenger in the cart with his son and daughter-in-law.
The 45-year-old yesterday described the stresses of the trial, in which he told Norwich Crown Court he had a long running tiff with the Holden family.
He told the EDP: “They tried to discredit me - a person who has set up a speed watch scheme and promoted safer driving for local communities.
“I found it extremely stressful. It was hanging over me for over a year.
“It was stressful for me and my family and the subject of most of my thoughts.”
Mr Raphael, of Swanton Road, Gunthorpe, Melton Constable, had called police on two previous occasions following run-ins with the Holdens, when he said they had been abusive and driven erratically in front of him, after they first met as he patrolled with the speed watch group he had set up in Gunthorpe.
Mr Raphael, who works on behalf of a charity, said Martin Holden and his son Harry had jumped off the cart to attempt to break into his van, when he was in Briston looking for a clothes donation bin he was shortly to take responsibility for.
He said: “I really felt very threatened when it happened.
“My dog, a Hungarian Vizsla, was terrified.”
Mr Raphael said he had not thought to report the incident to police at the time, but five days later officers came to his home and arrested him.
The jury took two hours and 40 minutes to return a not guilty verdict on the dangerous driving charge, and were then asked to consider a charge of driving without due care and attention.
They cleared the former Gunthorpe and Bale parish councillor of the charge ten minutes later.
Speaking after the trial he said: “I feel fantastic and I feel I have been vindicated.
“There was a possibility of jail. My reputation would have been ruined and I would have lost my livelihood.”
As parish councillor Mr Raphael said he had heard about the speed watch scheme running elsewhere in the country and asked police about setting it up in Gunthorpe.
The volunteers are given speed guns and speed watch signs and told by police to avoid any confrontation with motorists.
On Wednesday the jury cleared Mr Raphael of ABH.