Road rage assault

By David Kavanagh | posted on January 16, 2020

A ROAD rage incident that saw a teenage boy dragged from his mother’s car and bashed in the head in October is evidence of a worsening problem in the community, an Albany court has been told.

Magistrate Raelene Johnston said road rage violence was “far more prevalent than it used to be” when she fined Albany man Stephen Murphy more than $1700 for the common assault in Albany Magistrates Court last Thursday.

Mr Murphy, a former combat engineer, attacked the 17-year-old victim after the boy made “rude gestures” at him from the front passenger seat of his mother’s Ford Falcon.

The 50-year-old was about to enter an Albany Highway roundabout from Sanford Road when the Ford Falcon allegedly cut him off at around 3.50pm on October 18.

Prosecuting Sergeant Alan Dean said the two vehicles then pulled over on the highway before Mr Murphy engaged in a “verbal argument” with the victim, pulled him from the car “by his hair” and punched him five times in the back of the head.

In an interview with police two days later, Mr Murphy said he had “snapped” and “was ashamed of what he’d done”.

He added he did not realise the victim was a juvenile at the time.

“It’s an awful thing that occurred,” Magistrate Johnston said prior to sentencing.

“It’s entirely understandable that people get upset about other people’s driving on the road … it used to be the case that people would generally honk their horn. This obviously went beyond that.

“It got out of hand the moment you got out of the car and deteriorated from there.”

Mr Murphy’s defence lawyer Graeme Payne said his client was a father of three children, including one aged 17, and had worked as a truck driver for 15 years before he was made redundant 18 months ago.

He said Mr Murphy had had right of way when the Ford Falcon “flashed past” and left him feeling “frightened” and “startled”.

“He asked the driver what she thought she was doing and the victim chipped in … the victim was using abusive language,” Mr Payne said.

“[Mr Murphy] was very remorseful for his response.”

Magistrate Johnston accepted the incident was not something Mr Murphy would usually be involved in and granted him a spent conviction.

In Western Australia, common assault can attract a maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment and a fine of $18,000.