ANNOYED that his younger workmate had missed a delivery slot at a fruit packers near Evesham, a frustrated trucker grabbed a knife and tried to stab him in the neck.

Fortunately Constantin Burleanu’s victim, who was still manoeuvring their articulated lorry when he was attacked, managed to fend off the blow, suffering an injury to his hand.

Burleanu, 51, from Romania, was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to assaulting his fellow-driver causing him actual bodily harm.

Prosecutor Sophie Murray said that on March 22 Burleanu and his younger companion, who had been driving together for three weeks, were due to make a delivery to Angus Soft Fruits’ packing centre in Salford Priors, near Evesham.

With the younger man driving, they had missed their early morning delivery slot and were told to return at 11am. As the victim was reversing away from the premises so they could park up and wait for their revised slot, Burleanu became angry, swearing and telling him he was stupid.

“The complainant says they had not been getting on since they had joined together to drive the vehicle,” said Miss Murray.

“The defendant became very angry and took a knife, which was used for chopping up food when they stopped for breaks, from the dashboard, and said ‘I will kill you.’ “The complainant held his left hand up to try to defend himself, with his other hand still on the wheel, and received a cut to his little finger.

“He said if he had not been able to defend himself, the knife would have gone into his neck.

“He braked and came to a sharp stop, which unbalanced the defendant, and he grabbed his phone and jumped out of the cab and started walking up the road.”

He phoned his employers who was ‘not very helpful’ before getting assistance from someone who called for an ambulance and he was taken to hospital where he had stitches in the deep wound to his finger.

In a statement he said he has lost his job as a result of the attack, and had to take the stitches out himself when the finger, which still hurts when he moves it, became infected and he was not able to get to a hospital.

Clare Evans, for Burleanu, said: “He’s a 51-year-old man of good character who accepts that on this day he lost control of his temper.

“He is a long-distance lorry driver by trade, and has been for many years, and the complainant was accompanying him to learn the ropes. It had not been an easy journey.  He was not happy with the way he was driving and he was not listening to what Mr Burleanu said.

“The fact that they had missed their drop-off was the final straw.  They had been told to park up and wait, which caused Mr Burleanu to snap.

“While it’s accepted the lorry was moving, it was a parking manoeuvre, they were not on the open road.

“This was a food knife which happened to be visible on the dashboard of the lorry.  He just picked up the nearest thing, and he disputes saying ‘I am going to kill you.’

“I have had a conversation with him, and the thing he has said the most is ‘I am sorry, I am so, so sorry.’  He is ashamed that he lost control in this way,” added Miss Evans.

Jailing Burleanu, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano, who observed that he could have been charged with wounding, told him: ““I accept it’s something that happened on the spur of the moment after a build-up of irritation, but the only reason he was only cut to his finger is because he put his hand up to protect himself from a more serious injury.”