Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

DFS boss 'was road rage victim'

Lord Kirkham (right) arrives at Doncaster Crown Court
Lord Kirkham, right, started his furniture empire in 1969

A furniture boss accused of a road rage attack on a fellow motorist has told a jury he was the victim.

DFS founder and chief executive Lord Kirkham told Doncaster Crown Court that Keith Pearce came at him kicking and then tried to strangle him.

The 63-year-old, who is accused of attacking Mr Pearce in the village of Sprotbrough, South Yorkshire, said he was "not proud" of the incident.

He denies one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The court heard that Lord Kirkham has lived in Sprotbrough, near Doncaster, for more than 30 years.

He told the jury he was driving to catch a helicopter to a business meeting in his silver Mercedes in April when he smiled at the driver of a red Fiat Punto after stopping to let him out of a junction.

He said the driver, Mr Pearce, responded by shouting insults at him.

It's a bit childish, isn't it? It's not something someone of 64 years of age, running a big organisation and who should be setting an example, should do
Lord Kirkham

Lord Kirkham told the jury Mr Pearce then drove on before slamming on the Punto's brakes.

He said Mr Pearce then got out of his car and banged on the roof of the Mercedes.

He told the court: "I got out of the car because I wanted to give him a piece of my mind.

"I wanted to remonstrate with him.

"Before I could, he just ran at me. He kicked me on my legs and on my shins and on my knees.

"It just took me by surprise and I just flung out my arms at him.

"The next thing I recall, I had my knee on the ground and he had my head in a neck lock squeezing me."

Lord Kirkham told the jury the incident stopped after a woman had shouted "pack it in" and Mr Pearce appeared to release his grip.

The defendant then got straight in to his car and drove off.

Asked by Andrew Dallas, prosecuting, why he had got out of the car, Kirkham said: "I made a terrible mistake.

"It's a bit childish, isn't it? It's not something someone of 64 years of age, running a big organisation and who should be setting an example, should do."

Mr Pearce had previously told the court that Lord Kirkham attacked him by scratching his face and punching him after he had been forced to stop by the Mercedes.

The trial continues.

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SEE ALSO
Furniture tycoon 'punched driver'
18 Dec 08 |  South Yorkshire
Furniture boss on assault charge
09 Oct 08 |  South Yorkshire

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