WHEN driver Stephen Baker saw his estranged wife with her new lover in another car he simply “lost it”.
He gave chase and used the 4x4 he was driving as a “battering ram”
while tailgating the couple. But the 15-minute ordeal eventually ended in a crash when Baker followed the pair into a petrol station and rammed the other car into a petrol pump and into another car.
Southampton Crown Court, sitting in Winchester, heard how “a red mist descended” on Baker, who was distressed by the break-up of his 26-year marriage, when he saw wife Donna with her new boyfriend Mark Barnes.
Driving his Mitsubishi he began tailgating the couple in their white Ford Focus for some distance before following them on to the Esso petrol station forecourt in Totton. There, he chased them around the petrol pumps while his son and daughter were both in the car.
Dramatic footage of the incident, which happened just after lunchtime on October 30 last year, was played to the court and showed Baker’s car being reversed at speed towards them.
A garage worker described howshe heard a “horrific metal on metal noise” and feared there was about to be an explosion as Baker rammed into Mr Barnes’ car, pushing it sideways into the fuel pumps.
The woman then watched in horror as the Mitsubishi continued to follow the Focus towards the roundabout near the town’s Asda store before ramming it again – sending them head-first into oncoming traffic on Ringwood Road.
Prosecutor Eleanor Fargin told the court that some of the drama was relayed to police during a 999 call as it happened, before Mr Barnes managed to get away and park up safely.
Defending, Unyime Davis said Baker, of Palm Road, Southampton, had gone through 11 weeks of turmoil trying to save what had been an “extremely happy marriage” and he “lost it” when he felt he was being mocked.
He was devastated because his wife had “entirely turned her back” on their children, including their 20- year-old son who has learning difficulties and for whom she was his dedicated carer, she added.
The court was told that before the split, Baker had been forced to call police several times because of concerns over his wife’s behaviour and more recently she had been virtually harassing him and other members of the family and had been spoken to by police.
Judge Guy Boney said it was an unusual case and although there was a high degree of provocation he had no choice but to send Baker, who had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, to prison for four months.
He described the 46-year-old’s behaviour behind the wheel as “appalling” and dangerous and said the most serious moment came when he pushed the car into a lane of oncoming traffic, telling Baker: “It’s no thanks to you that a serious pileup didn’t occur.”
Baker was also ordered to pay £250 compensation to Mr Barnes, was banned from driving for 15 months and is also the subject of a restraining order banning contact with Donna Baker.