Northern Ireland

Ice cream van driver from Omagh fined over threats to rival

ice cream van Image copyright creacart

An ice cream van driver from Omagh has been fined €500 after threatening a rival who he believed had invaded his patch.

The incident took place on a busy Co Donegal beach.

Tom Ward, 65, of Drumnakilly Road, faced a number of charges linked to the row at Rossnowlagh Beach.

The judge at Ballyshannon District Court described the case as "an ice cream truck war", prompting laughter in the courtroom.

Mr Ward was charged with stealing keys from Felim Kernan, using threatening and abusive behaviour, and careless driving.

He was also accused of having no insurance and failing to produce insurance.

The court was told there was "history" between the rival sellers following a previous altercation in Castlederg.

'He felt a jolt'

In their evidence to the court, both men said they had been selling ice cream on the beach for years.

The incident took place on a good, sunny day when the beach was crowded with lots of children.

Image caption Tom Ward (pictured) has been fined €500 after threatening a rival who he believed had invaded his patch

The judge said both parties saw it as "an opportune time to sell a lot of ice cream".

Mr Kernan said he had parked up 20 yards from Mr Ward and had begun to serve customers when he felt "a jolt on the back of the van".

He said Mr Ward then took the keys from his van and refused to give them back.

When Mr Kernan told him he would call Gardaí, he said Mr Ward swore at him.

'I tipped him'

An earlier hearing had heard claims Mr Ward had rammed his rival's van up to six times.

Mr Ward told the court that he had been sitting on the beach "minding my own business" when his rival parked his van "close to my bumper".

He said he had jumped out of the van and there had been a dispute.

He admitted taking the keys and said, "I tipped him" and that there had been "a wee nudge".

He said after five minutes he had given the keys back.

The judge said the evidence of Mr Kernan was "a gross exaggeration of the incident".

The judge said he had claimed his van had been damaged when "there was not a scratch on it".

The defence lawyer produced evidence that Mr Ward was insured on the van owner's policy and said these documents had been shown to Gardaí.

Mr Ward was fined €500 for using abusive and threatening behaviour and all other charges were struck out.

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