A TAXI driver has been sent to prison for a year and banned from driving for 18 months for deliberately reversing a minibus into a woman’s car after she parked in a turning bay outside Kendal’s main post office.

Carlisle Crown Court heard that 37-year-old Robert Atkinson was angry because Mrs Lee Bell was stopping him getting his minibus out of the car park after she dropped off her grown-up daughter behind the Stricklandgate Centre on July 23 last year.

He tried to do an “impatient” three-point turn, prosecutor Becky McGregor told the court, but when he failed he deliberately threw the minibus into reverse and rammed into the front of Mrs Bell’s car, causing £400 damage.

All the time, Ms McGregor said, Atkinson was shouting four-letter insults at Mrs Bell.

And afterwards, when she got out of her car to remonstrate with him, he blamed her for not moving her car by using foul and abusive language.

When she told him she was going to call the police, the court heard, he replied “I’d have no problem with punching you in the face” before driving off.

He was arrested soon afterwards at K Cars taxis, where he worked.

He admitted to the police that he had been “a little bit aggressive” but said he was just “agitated” because he wanted to get the minibus out so he could do his job.

Ms McGregor said that Mr Neil Barry, who witnessed the incident, later told the police: “He was using every swear word in the book.”

The court heard that Mrs Berry was so upset by what happened that she had to give up her job as a hotel manager.

She was now “fearful” and suffered panic attacks and was no longer as outgoing as she used to be, Ms McGregor said.

Atkinson - who used to live in Empson Road, Kendal, but has since moved to Ely in Cambridgeshire –pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving.

In mitigation his barrister Chris Evans said the incident was the culmination of “two or three very difficult years”, which had included the collapse of his marriage.

“He had had a particularly stressful day,” he said.

He said he now accepted he had over-reacted “to a set of circumstances with which he should just have been patient”, he said.

Judge Paul Batty QC told Atkinson his behaviour had been “appalling and disgraceful”.

He said: “The courts simply will not tolerate this aggressive bullying of vulnerable women. It was quite outrageous conduct.”