May 19 2013 Latest news:
Ramzy Alwakeel, Reporter
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
A top Havering councillor has been cleared of assaulting a bus driver following an alleged road rage incident last year.
Cllr Barry Tebbutt, 51, was accused of grabbing Robert Malindine through the window of his 294 bus – tearing his sleeve and injuring his wrist – after a traffic dispute.
But following a trial in Romford on Thursday, magistrates found Cllr Tebbutt not guilty.
Character witness and fellow Tory councillor Barry Oddy joined Cllr Tebbutt’s father, ex-councillor Alby Tebbutt, in the public gallery.
A key moment came when it emerged that pivotal prosecution witness Ann Innel had discussed her evidence with Mr Malindine.
As a result she was dismissed from the court and her account of events – in which she alleged a man’s voice had told Mr Malindine “I’m going to beat you up” – could not be used against Cllr Tebbutt.
On the evening of the altercation, Mr Malindine was driving from Noak Hill to Havering Park.
He was pulling out of a bus stop in North Street, Romford, when he claimed Cllr Tebbutt had cut in front of him in a red van.
The councillor, he alleged, had then got out of the van and started “giving me a load of verbal” before forcing open the driver’s window and grabbing his arm.
But Cllr Tebbutt said he had merely put his hand on the window frame while leaning forward to ask: “What did you do that for?”
He added: “At no time did I touch Mr Malindine,” but admitted he had used “something that wouldn’t be acceptable in normal language” when confronting the driver.
He said Mr Malindine had then shut the window on his hand, following which he told him: “You’ve just made a big mistake. I happen to know your boss and I’m going to report you.”
Cllr Tebbutt, of Crow Lane, Romford, said he had been heading to a job in Mawney Lane for his removal business.
The court heard how Mr Malindine had “squeezed out” Cllr Tebbutt – who was waiting in his van to turn left across the end of the bus lane.
“Annoyed” and “disappointed”, Cllr Tebbutt – Havering Council’s StreetCare boss – got out of his van to remonstrate.
“I thought what he’d done was very unreasonable,” he told the court.
Cllr Tebbutt was awarded costs, including £2,000 of legal fees incurred on two abortive court dates when a DVD of CCTV footage from Mr Malindine’s bus had not been made unavailable.