A JUDGE told a defendant he drove "like an idiot" for his dangerous manoeuvres along the M53 motorway near Cheshire Oaks.

Ryan Williams, 22, of Grove Square, New Ferry, repeatedly swerved and hit the brakes in front of victim Liam Brennan on December 8, 2017.

At one point, Chester Crown Court heard on Tuesday, May 20, the two vehicles were "millimetres apart" as Williams forced Mr Brennan on to the hard shoulder, while Williams's passenger threw a hammer out of the window which hit and damaged Mr Brennan's car.

When Mr Brennan and partner Phoebe Hughes told Williams there was a baby in their car – 19-month-old Theo – Williams laughed and continued to drive dangerously.

After police incorrectly took down the car's numberplate details, Williams was traced thanks to the victim's family putting a public appeal out on Facebook.

Blasting Williams for being "a fool, but a lucky fool" that nobody was killed as a result of his driving, the judge, Recorder Michael Hayton QC banned him from driving for three years.

But he stopped short of sending him to prison immediately, acknowledging that Williams was a young man of previous good character who had not offended in the 17 months since the incident.

Prosecuting, Karl Scholz said it was at junction 10 of the motorway when Mr Brennan, travelling at 50-55mph while heading home to Broughton, noted a blue Vauxhall Corsa driving "at 100mph" while passing them, pulling into the space, braking, then going into the sliproad.

He saw Williams looking at him, smirking.

Mr Brennan and Ms Hughes raised their hands to gesticulate and then Mr Brennan saw full beam headlights coming towards him.

Williams overtook him and braked hard, causing Mr Brennan to slow to 20mph. This continued for two to three minutes and Ms Hughes went to call the police, giving the correct numberplate registration, but Mr Scholz said police had taken down incorrectly.

Items were then thrown out of the Corsa including a metal fork, a plastic Yazoo bottle and a plastic carrier bag filled with rubbish, while the passenger held out a phone and looked to be filming the incident.

As the cars travelled millimetres apart, Mr Brennan wound down the window to shout at Williams: "Pack it in, I have a baby in the car," to which Williams laughed.

Williams sped up suddenly and began edging Mr Brennan's car to the hard shoulder, forcing them to slow to between 15-20mph, before Williams moved into the second lane, very slightly ahead.

Mr Scholz added: "It was at this point a hammer was thrown from [Williams's] vehicle."

The cost of the damage to Mr Brennan's car was £511 + VAT.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Brennan said he "genuinely thought they were going to cause a fatal accident, that would be it for us, that they would kill us."

The victim's family put an appeal on Facebook to track down the driver, and two days later attended his address.

While Williams's mother was apologetic for his behaviour, Williams, when told his driving could have killed someone, replied: "Well I didn't though, did I?" before telling Ms Hughes to "f*** off".

Ms Hughes, in a victim impact statement, said she was still very nervous about what happened that day and nervous about travelling, particularly if another vehicle gets too close.

When police interviewed Williams, he initially claimed the car had been damaged in a collision in April 2017 and had only done 10 miles since, spending the rest of the time outside his house.

When it was put to him that automatic numberplate recognition evidence showed the vehicle had been used many times, he claimed his numberplate had been cloned and used on another blue Vauxhall Corsa.

Williams was later positively identified in an identity parade.

Defending, John Ballam was 20 at the time of the offence and had turned 22 yesterday (May 19).

He was of previous good character and had positive references from his employer and partner.

In police interview, he was unrepresented and "terrified of the situation" and was "trying to bury his head in the sand, acting quite naively."

An immediate jail term would mean he would lose his job and home.

The judge, sentencing Williams, told him: "This is a long time ago but it was really bad driving. The road was icy, it was dark, and you were driving like an idiot.

"Your glib response [to the family] is not because you were a good driver, it is because you were lucky.

"One bit of black ice and this could have been a fatality. I could've been sending you to prison for years.

"A car can be a weapon, you drove it to intimidate.

"Your life could have been ruined. You were a fool, but a lucky fool and fortunate there was no incident."

Williams was handed a 12-month prison term, suspended for 18 months, and handed a 12-month community order to include 20 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement.

He must pay a total of £1,000 compensation to Mr Brennan and Ms Hughes, plus £250 prosecution costs.