Ice cream man waged turf war

An ice cream war erupted in Dudley when a seller attacked a rival’s van for cashing in on turf he had claimed as his own.

Steffan Debattista was today behind bars for his angry outburst against rival Maxine Catalano. He tailgated her for eight miles after spotting her van on his patch.

She managed to get away from him but when her van ended up behind his at traffic lights in Birmingham Road, he then deliberately threw his ice cream van into reverse, smashing into her.

Prosecutor Miss Marisha Parathalingham told Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday that Debattista sped off after the crash.

The 20-year-old was later traced because a witness made a note of the registration number of his van.

Debattista struck again 11 days later on September 15 last year while on bail for the first offence. This time he snapped off the handle of the machine in Miss Catalano’s van, flooding it with ice cream, the court heard.

Debattista, from Boundary Hill, Lower Gornal, had denied both charges but pleaded guilty to criminal damage in relation to the later offence midway through his trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

A jury found him guilty of dangerous driving over the Birmingham Road crash.

Mr William Rickarby, defending, said: “He suffers from a hyperactive disorder and this episode has taught him a salutary lesson.”

Debattista was jailed for five months for dangerous driving and one month for criminal damage, to run concurrently, as well as being banned from driving for two years.

Judge Nicholas Webb told him: “The victim was in the business of selling ice cream and you disapproved strongly of the competition she posed. You set about trying to scare her from selling ice cream.”