Man recalls frightening moments in road-rage case

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Testifies he was the victim of vicious attack by enraged driver with baseball bat

Christopher R. Hollett is led into provincial court in St. John’s Thursday, the first day of his trial. The 30-year-old faces several charges, including assault causing bodily harm, which stem from a June 2010 incident, in which he allegedly chased down a man in his car and assaulted him with a bat. — Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

The video shows a terrified-looking Dennis Fleming storming into a gas station, demanding the clerk get help.

“Call the f---ing cops, please!” he shouts at the man, who is heard dialling 911.

In another frame of the video, Fleming is then heard relaying to police what he said had just happened.

“I just got f---ing chased from the Village mall to the Avalon Mall by (a guy in) a car,” Fleming is heard telling an officer on the phone.

“He knocked out my f---ing window. He hit me with the bat. I have his licence plate number.”

The videos were from June 4, 2010, at Ultramar on Kenmount Road, where Fleming and his girlfriend ended up after what was reportedly a chilling, 15-minute high-speed car chase by an enraged driver.

On Thursday, Fleming recalled his experience while testifying at the trial of Christopher R. Hollett.

Hollett, 30, is accused of assaulting Fleming, 22, with a baseball bat and smashing out the windows of his car following a dispute on the rules of the road.

Hollett has pleaded not guilty to six charges — assault causing bodily harm, assault, mischief relating to property damage, possessing a weapon dangerous to the public, dangerous driving and breaching a probation order.

Cut off by vehicle

Fleming told the court the incident started on Empire Avenue, at the Columbus Drive intersection. He was on his way to dropping off his girlfriend, who was in the passenger’s seat, at around 1 a.m., when a silver Jeep pulled suddenly out in front of his van and cut him off just before reaching the traffic lights.

Once the vehicles made the left-hand turn onto Columbus Drive, Fleming quickly pulled into the other lane and flashed an offensive gesture at the Jeep’s driver.

“I gave him the finger,” Fleming said. “I was annoyed.”

Fleming said he saw the man pointing and yelling at him.

That’s when, he said, the driver of the Jeep pulled out in front of his van and began slamming on the brakes.

“He was trying to get me to hit him,” Fleming said.

The Jeep then turned right onto Captain Whalen Drive, next to the Newfoundland Hydro building, with Fleming behind him.

But with a small island dividing the lanes at the turnoff, Fleming said, the Jeep stopped, blocking him from going further.

It was then, Fleming said, the driver of the Jeep got out, carrying an aluminum bat. He said the man knocked on his window with his fist and began yelling at him.

“I just got f---ing chased from the Village mall to the Avalon Mall by (a guy in) a car.” Dennis Fleming, as heard on a video

Fleming rolled his window down halfway.

“I told him I didn’t want any trouble,” Fleming testified, “and that I was just trying to drive my girlfriend home.”

Fleming said the man then punched him in the eye.

“I hit the gas and hit his vehicle to try to push it out of the way,” he said.

He said the man then swung the bat and smashed out the driver’s side window of his van.

“Glass went everywhere,” Fleming said, “in my eyes, in my girlfriend’s hair.”

Fleming then sped away, with the Jeep in pursuit. The vehicles sped down Blackmarsh Road, onto Topsail Road and eventually onto Kenmount Road.

Fleming said he drove his van to speeds of 180 km/h.

But the Jeep caught up with him, he said, and tried to run him off the road.

Desperate to find help, Fleming turned into the Ultramar gas station, near the Avalon Mall, with the Jeep behind him.

Fleming and his girlfriend got out of the van and ran towards the gas station door. Before the buzzer to allow entry went off, he said, the man got out of his Jeep and struck him twice in the leg with the bat.

Fleming said at one point, he managed to get hold of the barrel of the bat under his arm.

“He shouted at me to let go,” said Fleming. “Then he said something about his child being in the car.”

The video shows his girlfriend outside the door covering her head to protect herself during the attack.

The buzzer to the front door then went off and Fleming and his girlfriend raced inside.

Fleming said he then saw the man using the bat to beat out almost every window in his van before driving away.

He said he didn’t get a good look at the man and would not be able to identify him.

“I was just focused trying to get away from him,” he said.

Once police arrived, Fleming was taken to hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries.

Hollett had been granted bail shortly after his arrest, but was taken into custody in January in connection with a drug bust, in which pharmacist Ann Marie Burke was also arrested.

The trial on the alleged attack is expected to wrap up today.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Ultramar, Newfoundland Hydro

Geographic location: Blackmarsh Road, Topsail Road

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Recent comments

  • Robert Johannesburg
    December 02, 2011 - 14:40

    Wow, this is insane and scary. Especially since the guy was only concerned about his child when he couldn't beat up the guy. He obviously wasn't thinking about his kid when he was trying to kill the guy. It least the bat wasn't one of those fancy custom baseball bats. I feel like those might have been able to do more damage.

  • Momma D
    May 06, 2011 - 10:19

    “He shouted at me to let go,” said Fleming. “Then he said something about his child being in the car.” And this guy shouldn't be allowed to be in the vicinity of a child if he has a temper like that and was driving 180km/hr with a child in the car! I think Child Protective Services should look into that one too!

  • Trina Taylor
    May 06, 2011 - 09:34

    When did we start to allow "Animals" to drive vehicles? Our judicial system in Canada is for people who break the law not for people who abide by the law. The same goes for Western Newfoundland - I can honestly say that I hardly ever see a police officer on our highways or streets. Put this animal in the " Pound" before he kills my child or yours....

  • Kent
    May 06, 2011 - 09:14

    It seesm a bit odd to me that someone drives around with a baseball in their vehicle... It's almost as though he was prepared for a confrontation and an opportunity to use his bat. Given that he was not wearing a wearing a baseball uniform, I have to question the motive behind driving aronud with a baseball bat in the car.

  • Ben W
    May 06, 2011 - 08:48

    Serious matter here....I can only imagine how that guy must of felt, wow.....I would think he was scared for his life and his girlfriends, its not really something to joke about, Im sure this will affect him for a long time. ..... I think we all need to calm down and not take someone cutting us off as something personal that we need to give anyone the finger for, however at 22 y/o I probably was foolish enough to do same and it doesnt warrent this. Obviously this person is in need of professional mental help and deserves to serve a long long time in jail.

  • Jim
    May 06, 2011 - 08:24

    I like how he can get in a high speed chase across town and never see one cop car. RNC is barely even visible anymore and people are running stop signs and cutting people off all over, not to mention the cell phone idiots. I would like to see the RNC doing more about the state of our dirvers as the number of $20k fines and no licenses should dictate.

  • Jim
    May 06, 2011 - 08:20

    Maybe we shouldn't be giving people the finger??

  • flexxa
    May 06, 2011 - 08:08

    ...how many outstanding fines does this gem have?

  • W BAgg
    May 06, 2011 - 08:04

    well he won't stick his finger up to anyone anymore LOL

  • DWH
    May 06, 2011 - 08:03

    Another crazed idiot on our roads. Hope the judge gives him what he deserves. If you want to drive like a maniac, take the consequences. You share the roads, you don't own them.