A body builder who denied speeding up as he drove towards a female police officer on traffic duty during a Royal Black Preceptory Parade in Lisnaskea last August has been convicted of dangerous driving.

James Gallagher, 41, of Nutfield Road, Lisnaskea appeared at Fermanagh Court last Wednesday, where he was also convicted of driving without a seatbelt.

Gallagher had previously pleaded guilty to disorderly behaviour on that date but was contesting the charges of dangerous driving and driving without a seatbelt.

The court heard from a female PSNI constable who said she had been performing traffic control on the Lisnagole Road on August 5 and was stopping vehicles entering the town.

She said that signs were in place to tell drivers that the road was closed to incoming traffic and she had been standing beside a “highly visible” police car with blue flashing lights.

She said she saw a car approaching her post and then saw a silver jeep overtake that car. The constable said she lifted her right hand, signalling for the jeep to stop.

She said: “He would have clearly seen me. The vehicle appeared to speed up as it came towards me. I moved quickly to the grass verge and I physically shouted: “Stop” at the car because it was so close to me. I was within touching distance. I put my hand on the bonnet as it approached.”

The constable told Deputy District Judge Laura Ievers: “I was in fear I was going to get knocked down.”

She continued: “I seen the person inside who looked highly irate and was obviously shouting – the driver was James Gallagher.

“He was inside the vehicle hammering his fists on the steering wheel. His face was screwed up. He was angry.”

The police officer said when Gallagher got out of the vehicle, he “appeared to be in a pure rage.”

She said he shouted obscenities at her, including calling her “a black b***h”, a “f**king w***e” and “black b*****ds.”

She said she told him to calm down and he did. She then asked him to move his vehicle as it was blocking a car trying to leave the town. The constable reported that, as Gallagher drove away, “he reached his body across the passenger side, lifted his middle finger and made another string of obscenities and then drove off at speed.”

She added: “He did not attempt to put on his seatbelt.”

Gallagher’s defence solicitor told the police constable: “Mr. Gallagher would say he didn’t approach you at speed. There was no risk and no intention to harm you.”

She replied: “From where I was standing, he was driving at speed.”

Gallagher denied overtaking a vehicle. He said he saw the officer allow two vehicles past and then put her hand up to stop him.

“Why did she let two cars past and not let me past?” he said. He admitted he had been annoyed, saying: “Yes it annoyed me. Why let them through and not me?”

He admitted using expletive language and apologised for his behaviour. He denied speeding up on approach to the police officer.

Gallagher’s defence solicitor said: “If one had thought that a member of the public had deliberately driven at a police officer they would be arrested on the spot.”

Deputy District Judge Laura Ievers said she was impressed by the police constable’s evidence.

She stated: “I’ve no doubt he failed to stop, regardless of the speed. To do that, he went past another vehicle. I’ve no doubt it caused [the constable] to apprehend that she would be struck and caused her to take evasive action.”

The judge considered Gallagher’s conduct, how he spoke to the officer and how he left the scene.

She said: “I believe in a fit of rage the seatbelt was not applied.”

Gallagher was convicted of dangerous driving and driving without a seatbelt.

The case was adjourned until January 29 for a pre-sentence report and to fix a date for sentencing.