A DRIVER who lost his temper in a road rage incident on the M5 has been ordered to carry out unpaid work.

Matthew Hollis had admitted assaulting Andrew Rutter at an earlier hearing at Worcester Magistrates Court on the basis he did not punch or push his victim, or grab him around the throat.

The court heard that Mr Rutter, his partner and two children aged six and four, joined the M5 southbound at Junction 5, near Droitwich Spa, at about 4.30pm on October 26 last year.

Samantha Webley, prosecuting, said he moved his van into the second lane and noticed the driver in the car behind him gesticulating. Mrs Webley said Mr Rutter moved back into lane one and heard a collision, realising he had hit another motorist.

He pulled over, put on his hazard warning lights and went to check on his children when he saw Hollis approaching him, swearing and shouting.

Mrs Webley said Mr Rutter’s partner and children were screaming as he felt himself falling into the van and hit a cup holder which broke.

He alleged Hollis swung at him, connecting with his eye socket and hitting him in the torso before grabbing him around the throat. Hollis released his grip when both men agreed to let go of each other. Mr Rutter suffered a sore and tender eye socket, grazes and discomfort in the stomach area.

Mrs Webley said Hollis was arrested and told police the collision had forced him into the barrier and he went to remonstrate with Mr Rutter. The 28-year-old accepted he was swearing and had grappled with the other driver, causing them to both fall into the van.

He said he struck out when another person tried to intervene and the men then agreed to let go of each other.

Mark Turnbull, defending, said his client had been driving a courtesy car at the time as he had been in a crash where he had been hit by another motorist earlier that week.

Mr Turnbull said there was a “great deal of dispute” about what happened on the day of the assault. Mr Turnbull said Hollis had been out of work since October 2010 because of health problems. He is currently training to become a PE trainer and had been offered employment with a care agency.

Chairman of the bench Nicola Phillips described it as a “particularly nasty attack” and sentenced Hollis, of Keswick Drive, Warndon, Worcester, to a 12-month community order with a supervision requirement and 115 hours unpaid work. He must also pay £500 compensation to Mr Rutter and £300 costs.