Viral video showed traffic warden manager being hit by car in Burgess Hill road rage attack, court hears

A viral road rage video captured the moment one driver attempted to murder another man by driving his car straight at him after a street fight, a court has heard.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 7:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 7:28 am

Traffic warden manager Steven Smith could be seen bouncing off the bonnet following the brawl, leaving the windscreen smashed.

Arthur McGhie then tried to punch him again as he was trapped in a bush, a jury were told.

Video of the incident in Burgess Hill on August 24 last year went viral after being shared on Facebook.

The scene of the incident

Mr Smith, who was driving home from work in his uniform at around 1215, tried to give way to recovery van driver Arthur McGhie before the two men got out of their cars.

The video shows Mr Smith being knocked into a bush as he walks back to his own car following the confrontation.

Neighbours described hearing a massive bang and the sound of breaking glass as he was hit by the silver Kia.

The video, shown to the jury, went viral before an off duty police officer spotted Mr McGhie looking at the scene.

Investigators working at the scene at the time of the incident

Arthur James McGhie, 55, deliberately drove at Mr Smith, Rachel Beckett for the Crown told a jury.

He denies attempted murder.

“The Crown’s case is that by driving deliberately at Mr Smith and hitting him with his vehicle, he intended at that time to kill him,” Ms Beckett said.

Mr Smith flashed his lights at a junction near his home in Burgess Hill, to indicate he was letting the other driver go, the court heard.

“Mr Smith slowed to a stop, still indicating to the defendant that he could go ahead,” Ms Beckett said.

“The defendant was looking directly at Mr Smith but did not move his vehicle.”

Both drivers stopped near a mini roundabout and got out of their cars.

“Mr Smith asked if he had done something wrong,” Ms Beckett said.

“The defendant replied, saying that Mr Smith was 'sneaky' and 'trying to trap people'.

“He looked at the emblem on Mr Smith’s shirt and said 'yeah you lot, you’re sneaky'.

“The defendant repeated that Mr Smith was vermin, and vultures who follow and track people.

“Mr Smith asked if he was on drugs, as he was rambling in an aggressive way.”

There was a scuffle between them, partly on the pavement and partly in the road.

“Mr Smith turned away from the defendant as a member of the public had asked him if he was OK.

“As he turned back, he saw the defendant lunge towards him.

“Mr Smith was able to step out of the way, which caused the defendant to fall forwards.

“The defendant approached him again, but Mr Smith put his hand up and told him to stop, and not to be stupid.

“The defendant walked away, and Mr Smith assumed that was the end of the incident,” Ms Beckett said.

Mr Smith headed back to his car assuming the incident was over.

“He heard a scream, which was followed by a car engine revving.

“He looked over his right shoulder and saw the defendant’s vehicle driving at him.

“He immediately then felt his back hit the bonnet of the car, and his head hitting the windscreen.

“He then felt his body hitting a hedge and he stood up.

“Mr Smith was in the hedge in a front garden and was not able to move.

“He heard people shouting but could not recall words used.

“He saw the driver get out and approach him.

“Mr Smith was not able to move his body.

“The defendant launched a punch towards his face, which Mr Smith moved his face to avoid,” Ms Beckett said.

Mr McGhie returned to his Kia and drove forwards into a pole before reversing and narrowly missing another vehicle.

He drove the short distance home, parking his damaged Kia Picanto in the driveway.

Mr Smith suffered several injuries and had blood dripping from his head when he was able to phone his partner from the scene to say he had no trousers.

His shirt had been ripped in the fight and the trousers shredded in the collision.

Mr Smith, a line manager for senior civil enforcement officers, working for Mid-Sussex District Council, suffered cuts and bruises to his head and body and was taken to hospital. Scans and X-rays revealed no broken bones and he was discharged at about 6pm.

Video of the August 24 incident was shared and reposted to Facebook.

An off duty police officer was shown the video by her friend as she walked close by the scene minutes later.

She spotted Mr McGhie and attempted to arrest him after alerting colleagues, the court heard.

She identified herself as police, the court heard, before being assaulted by Mr McGhie.

Body worn video of the arrest was shown to the jury.

It took four officers to restrain Mr McGhie who struggled violently.

“A dog handler appeared on the footpath, along with four other police officers.

“They helped to restrain the defendant so that he was then under control.

“A police van attended to transport him to custody for interview.

“Officers had to carry the defendant to the police van,” Ms Beckett said.

Mr Smith, a former soldier and prison officer, broke down as he told the court his first thought was to phone his wife after the attack.

He fought back tears when he was asked why his first thought was to phone his wife rather than emergency services.

“Because I love her, she’s my wife,” he said.

Mr Smith said the defendant was rambling and not making sense, and he thought he was high on drugs.

Asked by Rhodri James for the defence if he had punched Mr McGhie while the two men were grappling in the road, he said: “That’s not true.

“He was very aggressive.

“He was an angry man.

“He was getting right into my face,” Mr Smith said.

In his police interview, Mr McGhie said he thought the confrontation with Mr Smith had “Provoked a kind of tunnel vision,” Ms Beckett said.

In police body worn video shown to the jury, Mr McGhie can be heard claiming he was defending himself.

During his violent arrest by four officers, Mr McGhie was sprayed in the face with Captor spray.

Mr McGhie can be heard saying: “It was self defence, assault by him.”

He also claimed the off duty officer did not show any identification.

Rachel Beckett for the Crown said: “The Crown’s case is that the driving directly at Mr Smith, not applying the breaks at all, amounts to attempted murder.

“When he was approached and arrested by an officer off duty, he knew she was an officer, as she identified herself clearly before the arrest.

“He assaulted her and her colleagues.

“Those were not actions taken in self-defence.”

No alcohol or drugs were found in his system, the court heard.

“The defendant then told officers that there was a lot of things going on “behind the scenes” and he had been stopped and followed around town for some time.

“He said that the male involved in the incident was one of the people who knew his daily routine and had been stalking him,” Ms Beckett said.

Mr McGhie told police he believed the video had been edited to make him look bad.

“He said that the footage had been deliberately edited as it looked like nothing had happened before the incident,” Ms Beckett said.

“He said 'look it just looks like there’s nothing happened, there’s nothing happened, I get in my car and not, and run him down for the sake of it.

“No that’s not what happened.”

He told police he believed people were watching him.

In interview, Mr McGhie said: “I’m definitely not that person, you know, running up the kerb and running someone down, no.”

Arthur McGhie denies attempted murder and assaulting police.

The trial at Lewes Crown Court in Hove continues.