Road rage horse rider fined after throwing riding crop at Audi
A horse rider has been fined for throwing her riding crop at a businessman's Audi after he hooted the car's horn as she rode down a country lane.
A court heard how Jessica Mills, 29, initially turned her horse round to confront the internet entrepreneur Jacob Knox, 18, forcing him into reverse.
Then when he tried to overtake her in his A5 she hurled her riding crop at the car in a fit of anger.
However, Mr Knox pulled his car over further up the road and claimed the crop had caused £1,700 worth of damage to the windscreen and bonnet.
He told the police Mills had used the crop as a weapon against him and asked them to arrest her.
Mills, who used to work as a groom for a hunt kennels in Cheshire, was ordered to pay £1,500 compensation after admitting criminal damage.
The incident – described as "meeting of minds" – occurred on June 1 when Mills and a friend Samantha Chesters were riding their horses side-by-side along the narrow lane near the wealthy village of Mottram St Andrew.
Knox, who lives locally with his parents in a barn conversion, had just been to a garage when he drove up behind the two horses.
Debbie Byrne, prosecuting, told Macclesfield Magistrates' Court: "He drove behind them for around 30 seconds before trying to overtake.
"He then saw the horse move towards the middle of the road blocking his route. He beeped his horn to make sure the rider was aware of his presence, but Mills began shouting.
"He tried to pass the horses and he saw Mills grab the whip. He accelerated as she threw her whip and shouted. The whip cracked his windscreen and bonnet."
Miss Chesters, who was out riding with Mills told the hearing: "I knew the Audi was behind us because I could hear the engine.
"It slowed and followed us for seconds before I heard a 2-3 second horn. The Audi was two metres behind the back legs of the horses.
"Jessica and I had a brief conversation about the driver and she turned her horse round so she was facing in the opposite direction and started to approach the Audi.
"He started to reverse and ended up four cars away from his original position. She followed it and shouted at the driver. She was saying how dangerous it was to beep the horn and how they could have got scared.
"She eventually returned and we both spoke about how ridiculous it was and carried on.
"The Audi then came behind us and passed us at speed with the engine making a louder noise. She threw her whip at the Audi as it passed us – it landed on the metal roof and bounced off and landed in a driveway.
"When it got ahead of us it angled itself across the road so we couldn't get by. He refused to get out of the way and there was a lot of shouting between she and the driver.
"He then got out and walked towards us. The driver then told Jessica to ring the police as she had damaged his vehicle. I asked where the damage was and he said 'here' and pointed to the windscreen and bonnet.
"The damage was low down and looked like it had been caused earlier. The whole incident lasted for two minutes and was uncalled for.
"The driver of the car was totally inconsiderate as he had no reason to beep his horn and he shouldn't have driven past us as fast."
Mr Knox, who runs essentialfragrances.com and whose parents run a shopfitting firm, said it cost him £385 to repair the windscreen plus a further £1,486 in repairs and labour.
The court heard he passed his driving test six days after his 17th birthday and has three penalty points on his license for using a mobile phone at the wheel.
He told the hearing: "I waited behind the horses until the road was clear and started to overtake the horses as a normal person would.
"I did sound the horn when I was overtaking because they were not concentrating – they were chatting and the horse moved over onto the white line so I was on the embankment, so I had to let them know I was next to it.
"As I beeped the horn I was called rude names. She started walking her horse towards me and it was very close and she was using it to intimidate me. After I reversed and got a bit of distance she calmed down but then wouldn't let me past on purpose, out of spite.
"There was enough room to pass. When I went to overtake she was still calling me rude names and as I went past I saw her lift up her riding whip with a metal handle and she threw it at the car and it hit the bonnet, windscreen and roof. I heard a really loud bang and saw the windscreen crack and realised what happened.
"The car is a 2010 Audi A5. I've had it since February this year. The car was spotless with no damage whatsoever. It's a really nice car, I love it.
"I worked hard to afford it so I take good care of it. I'm not sure if it was appropriate to beep but I was making them aware of my presence. I have written an apology letter for beeping my horn."
In mitigation Mill's lawyer John Gallagher said: "This was a meeting of minds. The driver was very close to the horses. He lost patience and he tried to overtake. He then backs off a bit but sounds his horn which I find a remarkable and dangerous thing to do. Her reaction was one of frustration."
Mills herself told the hearing: "The whip hit the roof and bounced on to a driveway. I did not see the whip hit any part of the car other than the roof. I did not lose my temper, I protected my horse because he was too close."
But magistrate Ian Cawley: "Jacob Knox was measured in his response and was consistent and credible. Jessica Mills admitted to being more concerned about the horse so we therefore don't find her evidence as compelling."
After the case Mills who lives on a farm in Woodford said: "I have been made to feel like a criminal for protecting my horse and myself. At the time I asked him if he knew the High Way Code and suggested he go back home to learn it.
"I was only protecting my horse and I am very upset at what's happened. I haven't ridden since, I have tried to sit on a horse but I can't. I am now at a point where I am that scared of something happening I can't ride.
"I have never experienced anything like this before. It has left me quite depressed and I went very downhill. I was in tears for days and I even took a couple of weeks off work through stress. I was replaying it over and over in my mind.
"Riders have to be more aware of cars and riders have to be polite and I am always courteous. But cars have to be aware that horses are wild animals and have their own minds and I wish motorists would understand."
Mr Knox said: "I just want someone to pay for the damage they have caused. She did throw the whip and I beeped my horn but I was the calm one. She was calling me a d***head and an idiot."