A FURIOUS driver threatened to hunt down and kill a speed watch volunteer and ex-police officer of 40 years after flying into a fit of rage.

Volunteers David Blackiston and Charlie Bartlett said they felt unsafe in their own homes after repeated confrontations with an angry driver.

Ross Watts, 29, turned his Mercedes around and pulled up alongside the volunteers after they captured him travelling at 36 mph along Colchester Road, in Wix, a court heard.

When Mr Blackiston bent down and peered through the passenger window, he could see the driver’s face was “contorted with rage”.

Ashley Petchey, prosecuting at Colchester Magistrates’ Court, said Watts unleashed a foul-mouthed tirade, promising to find Mr Blackiston and kill him should a ticket drop through his letterbox.

“He left at speed in the car, screeching his tyres as he left”, he said.

“This caused shock and distress and due to this behaviour they ended the session.

“It was witnessed by several people, including a witness who had been walking her eight-year-old daughter to school.

“It caused her to be shocked and disgusted by the way he was talking to the victim.”

The court heard a second confrontation followed later that month, when the defendant stopped his car in Low Road, Dovercourt.

Watts, of Sparrows Corner, Great Oakley, began “angrily shouting and gesticulating” at the volunteers.

Mr Petchey said: “Ten minutes later the defendant parked his car.

“He was said to have an angry demeanour and was told he was being recorded.

“He said ‘Don’t worry, I am recording too you pathetic little man, I know where you live, I will hunt you down and sort you both out.’

“Mr Watts returned at 6.20pm, stopped his vehicle and opened his boot - prompting both to leave the area because they feared for their safety and what he might do.

“He said ‘You cowards, I’ll hunt you down.’ "This left the victim feeling unsafe in his own home and he contacted the police.”

The court heard Watts, who has eight previous convictions for 11 offences, suffers with anger issues and never intended to carry out his threats.

He admitted three counts of using threatening behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

The confrontations took place in March.

Selena Dines, mitigating, said Watts deeply regretted his actions and would seek help for his anger issues.

“He describes it as a reaction to someone jumping out at him with a speed camera just before a 60mph zone," she said.

“This is a gentleman who relies on his vehicle for work to drive from location to location, he provides parts to garages.

“He is here, there and everywhere and is expected to do the donkey’s work.

“He is currently supporting a girlfriend and a partner who is three months pregnant, when the baby is born he will be supporting a family - he won’t be able to do that if he doesn’t have a licence.

“Sending the young man to prison would be of no benefit to him.

“When in a stressful situation he doesn’t stop to think about the consequences or another route.

“He says that is just the way his family are and the way it has always been."

She added: “He is quite a personable and hard-working guy, he said he would like to go and see his GP and get some cognitive behaviour therapy.

“Hopefully you will never see him in the criminal courts again.”

Mark Paget, chairman of the bench, spared Watts prison, but ordered him to tackle his anger issues.

Watts must complete 120 hours of unpaid work and a 15 day rehabilitation activity requirement.

He must also pay a total of £370 in fines, court costs and compensation to the victims.

Mr Paget said: “What you did could have landed you in very, very serious trouble and we certainly considered a custodial sentence.

“We have two gentlemen here who are public spirited, trying to reduce accidents and encourage road safety in the area.

“From hearing the victim impact statement they are in fear of doing it and may no longer do it, which would be an awful shame.

“These gentlemen were doing a job for the community and for them to be put in such fear is not on.”

'I was terrified'

Volunteer Dave Blackiston, 72, served with the police for 40 years and was awarded an MBE for his work.

He set up the Harwich and District Community Speed Watch Partnership with the hope of cracking down on speeding drivers, but his commitment to the cause was blunted by Watts’ actions.

In a victim impact statement, He said: “When the male first threatened to kill me and my family and hunt us down I felt immediate fear.

“I was terrified he would be able to find me through social media and carry out his threats.

“In the second incident when he was opening his boot, we don’t know what’s in there. I was afraid he was going to hit me with a weapon.

“The male is much younger than myself, I would never be able to defend myself against him.

"We stopped for nine days due to the fear of his behaviour turning violent if he saw me again.”

He added: “Whenever I went in my own vehicle anywhere in public I was forever looking over my shoulder or at the vehicle behind in case it was this man.

“My wife is very worried about the threats made to us and as a family we stepped up our home security and also keep everywhere locked now.

“My children tried to talk me out of continuing Speed Watch and I am having doubts because of the level of threats of violence by this male.

“All I am doing is trying to promote road safety.”