Man jailed for spraying wood lacquer in victim's face during road rage incident in Leamington
The victim, a man in his 60s, was still suffering from 'misty' vision a year after the incident
A man in his 60s was still suffering from ‘misty’ vision a year after having an aerosol wood lacquer sprayed into his face in a road-rage incident near Leamington town centre.
And a judge told Gualtiero Scarpellino his ‘exceptionally wicked and vicious’ attack was too serious for anything other than an immediate prison sentence.
Scarpellino (52) of Siddeley Avenue, Coventry, was jailed for 21 months after he pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to assaulting his victim causing actual bodily harm.
Prosecutor Jacinta Stringer said that in November 2019 Rowland Jones was driving along Kenilworth Road towards Leamington behind a Mondeo driven by Scarpellino.
That car slowed to 15-20mph, so Mr Jones decided to overtake – but as he did so it speeded up, so he accelerated to 60 in the 40mph zone to complete the manoeuvre.
He then slowed back down to the speed limit, and could see Scarpellino behind him, beeping his horn and sticking his fingers up at him and ‘going mad.’
Scarpellino began driving very close behind Mr Jones’s car, then backing off before closing up again as they continued towards Leamington
At the Lillington Avenue junction the lights were on red, so Mr Jones stopped and could see Scarpellino behind him, ‘clearly agitated’ and making ‘throat-cutting movements.’
Scarpellino opened his car door, but the lights changed to green and Mr Jones pulled away, still followed by Scarpellino.
Concerned about what was going to happen, Mr Jones turned into Binswood Avenue, and when he saw some people in the street he pulled over and got out of his car.
“Before he had a chance to do anything, Scarpellino sprayed him in the face with an aerosol can, directly into his eyes. He continued to spray it and pointed it up under Mr Jones’s arms as he tried to protect himself.”
As Scarpellino then returned to his car Mr Jones, who said it felt as though the attack had lasted a minute, tried to get a picture of the registration number on his phone, but his vision was too badly affected to do so.
People who had witnessed the attack called the emergency services, and fire officers, who were first on the scene, flushed his eyes before he was taken to hospital for treatment.
But in a statement taken a year after the incident, Mr Jones said his eyesight was still ‘misty,’ and he feared he may have to stop driving if it got any worse.
When Scarpellino was arrested he had two cans of Stain Block in his car and was asked if that was what he had used, and said it was not, but that it was something similar.
Nick Devine, defending, said the incident had taken place in November 2019 and Scarpellino had been arrested within days, but for some reason was not charged until May this year.
He had admitted spraying lacquer into Mr Jones’s face when he was first interviewed, and said he was ‘devastated’ that he had hurt someone, said Mr Devine, who suggested his actions had been out of character.
But Judge Peter Cooke pointed out that although he had no convictions for violence, he had police cautions for assault and for threatening behaviour.
Jailing Scarpellino, Judge Cooke told him: “Every day a good proportion of the population get into their cars, and with great frequency we encounter behaviour from other drivers we are not happy with, and sometimes we are the people who make the mistakes and find ourselves being beeped at by others.
“It is part of daily life, and should not end in anything more than a brief display of ill-temper.
“It should certainly not result in the pursuit of another driver and the launching of an attack on him.
“This is a serious level of harm. Mr Jones had his vision still affected on a daily basis a year after you sprayed that lacquer into his eyes.
“To spray wood lacquer when it is directed deliberately and purposefully into a person’s face for a protracted period was an exceptionally wicked and vicious thing to do.
“No-one can spray something like that into someone’s eyes without knowing they were putting that person’s eyes at risk of permanent damage.
“It was not just, as you suggested, a panicked overreaction. He was a man of retirement age of medium build. You were in no danger from him.
“It is shocking that it took until May of this year for you to be charged. There can be no excuse for such a delay.
“But road-rage is appalling, and it needs to be dealt with robustly.
"This demands immediate custody.”