Behave on single-track roads, says sheriff

Sheriff Patrick Hughes is asking motorists to keep their frustrations in check when faced with drivers with less experience of single-track roads.
Sheriff Patrick Hughes is asking motorists to keep their frustrations in check when faced with drivers with less experience of single-track roads.

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With many tourists lacking experience of driving on single-track roads, motorists should remember to keep their frustrations in check.

This was the message from Sheriff Patrick Hughes at the end of a Campbeltown Sheriff Court trial last week during which he heard that one motorist became so frustrated when delayed that he and another family member blocked the road.

They thought this was the only way they could get the slower driver to use a passing place.

David Murgatroyd, aged 57, of 11 South Ridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, was found not guilty of dangerous driving but guilty of behaving in a threatening and abusive manner, following a car and thereafter exiting his own vehicle and shouting, swearing, acting in an aggressive manner and uttering an abusive remark.

The sheriff said that the most concerning element of evidence was the fact that members of the public set up an impromptu road block, and how frightening it must have been for the couple blocked in by strangers.

Sheriff Hughes said that the hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists across the West Highlands who did not normally use these roads could cause frustration for more experienced drivers but that is no excuse.

‘It gives me no pleasure in seeing a person of your age coming before the court as a first-time offender,’ said the sheriff as he fined Murgatroyd, a financial director, £100 plus a £10 victim surcharge.

The incident happened on August 3 2019 on the B8024 road from Kilberry to the A83 just south of Tarbert.

The Murgatroyd family and the other couple were all staying at Port Ban Holiday Park but were unknown to each other; all were heading south, the Murgatroyd party split between two cars, setting off at different times to catch the Gigha ferry and the others to another campsite in Kintyre.

The couple’s car was travelling in between the two family cars. When Murgatroyd’s car caught up with the slower-moving couple he said he flashed his headlights and sounded the horn once to make them aware of his presence and as a way of asking them to pull into a passing space to let him overtake.

For around eight miles and 24 passing places the car kept to low speeds and would not pull over, he said, adding: ‘He was intentionally trying to provoke.’

The occupants of the first Murgatroyd family car were worried by the delay and telephoned the occupants of the other car; the family decided the only way they would get to the ferry in time would be for their first car to drive back, stopping the other car and ask them to let their second car through.

The driver of the slow moving vehicle denied his slow speed was deliberate; he did not feel safe going any faster.

His partner, who filmed part of the encounter, said: ‘I was terrified, absolutely terrified.’

The camera phone footage was shown in court.

The Murgatroyd family made the ferry in time and the other couple went straight to Campbeltown Police Station to report what happened.