Cannonball driver with 'move your ass' sticker forced two vehicles off road
Published: 16 Oct 2012 12:52
"Move your ass" roared the sticker on the front of Jason Berry's Maserati sports car as he forced two drivers off the road during a charity fundraising rally.
The 37-year-old businessman was taking part in Cannonball Ireland, an annual gathering of supercar enthusiasts who drive in convoy on what the organisers describe as "an adventurous and picturesque road trip around Ireland" raising funds for charity.
He appeared at Fermanagh Court charged with dangerous driving. The prosecution refused to accept his plea to the lesser charge of careless driving. After hearing the evidence, Deputy District Judge Terence Dunlop said: "This is four square dangerous driving."
He fined Berry, from Alto Vetro, Dublin, £300 and banned him from driving for 12 months.
"Dangerous driving is not to be sniffed at and I think that with the risk he posed to quite a number of road users we are very fortunate that we are not dealing with injuries," he stated.
It was on the second day of this year's Cannonball Ireland, as around 150 supercars were travelling from Belfast to Galway, that the incident happened.
The prosecutor told the court that on Saturday, September 15, Peter Moore was travelling at 40mph in a queue of traffic coming from the prestige motorcar event. There were five vehicles, including a large goods vehicle, in the queue. As he drove out of Fivemiletown towards Enniskillen he noticed Berry's white Maserati sports car coming up behind him at considerable speed. It was travelling erratically with headlights and hazard warning lights flashing. Mr. Moore noticed that on the front of car was a sticker with red writing roaring: "Move your ass."
The prosecutor said that while the words were not indicative of Berry's driving, when coupled with the manner of his driving, "does go some way to showing his attitude to other road users".
The court heard that Berry was constantly flashing his headlights as he began overtaking Mr. Moore. As a he did so there was a white van coming in the opposite direction. Mr. Moore was forced to pull on to the hard shoulder.
"It was clear the Maserati was trying to force its way in in front of him," explained the prosecutor.
The driver of the van also had to brake and pull on to the hard shoulder.
The prosecutor described the manner of Berry's driving as "a very deliberate disregard for other road users".
Defence barrister, Miss Heather Philips, said around 150 vehicles were taking part in the event to raise money for a children's hospice in the Republic of Ireland. The cars were "dressed up" with stickers and the drivers were in fancy dress.
She said Berry was travelling in convoy and accepted his hazard warning lights were flashing. It was on a straight stretch of road and there was no indication he broke the speed limit.
"When he began to overtake he believed the road ahead was clear," she explained.
She said he then became aware of a vehicle coming in the opposite direction "and took steps to avoid a collision".
"He is certain he only became aware of this vehicle when it was too late to turn back," she added.
While it was a manoeuvre that could have caused an accident "because of his actions and reactions it didn't", claimed Miss Philips.
She said Berry had taken part in four Cannonball runs and the standard of participants' driving has to be suitable for them to attend and represent the charities for which they are raising funds.
The prosecutor submitted that it was the actions of Mr. Moore that prevented an accident and that Berry "could have braked and gone in behind him".
She said both Mr. Moore and the driver of the approaching van both had to pull on to their respective hard shoulders to avoid a collision.
Miss Philips said the loss of his licence would be a considerable impediment to Berry, who is hoping to leave Ireland and relocate to Croatia in the new year.