Wheelchair user left in terror

Court
Court

A Banbridge wheelchair user and his wife were left in a “state of terror” by the level of aggression from a man accused of declaring “all cripples should be killed.”

Philip and Beryl Wright had been trying to get parked near a restaurant in the south of Belfast city when Roland Rankin of Claremont Court, Belfast admonished them for allegedly going against a one-way system.

Rankin (60) was convicted at Belfast Magistrates Court last Thursday, March 12, of common assaults on the couple and disorderly behaviour.

District judge Ken Nixon was told Rankin subjected Mr Wright to a tirade of abuse and angrily grabbed his wife’s arm.

Mr Wright said: “After 45 years in a wheelchair I thought nothing could have offended me. But I have lost confidence completely in being out in a public situation in the city.”

Rankin was sentenced to a total of eight months behind bars, but granted bail pending a planned appeal.

The confrontation occurred at Claremont Street, close to his home, on May 20 last year.

Mr Wright said Rankin appeared and became hostile as he tried to manoeuvre his car into a postion on the one-way street to access his wheelchair.

“He was aggressive, yelling and cursing. When he saw the chair it aggravated him even more,” the victim told the court.

“He was reaching towards me and said words to the effect that all cripples, he knew one once, they should all be killed and he would do it.” Mr Wright added: “I was in a state of terror when all this was done.” His wife who phoned police over Rankin’s unpredictable state, said the couple had not been back to Belfast since.