A cyclist who was filmed knocking over a five-year-old girl on a snowy path in Belgium on Christmas Day 2020, the footage of the incident subsequently going viral on social media and causing much discussion and outrage, has won a lawsuit against the child's father in relation to the video being shared online.
The 63-year-old cyclist, who has not been named, had in March 2021 been ordered to pay a symbolic €1 in damages to the child's family, a judge in Verviers also handing the rider a suspended sentence after agreeing that the footage showed that the cyclist had been riding too fast and there was insufficient space to overtake safely.
However, later that year the man sued the child's father for defamation, a lawyer for the cyclist saying that the footage being shared on social media with a caption asking if it should be reported to the police, and consequently going viral and being picked up by media outlets around the world, provoking shock and anger among many who viewed it, had caused his client to feel threatened whenever he went outside.
Patrick Mpasa said he had not shared the footage of the incident at Baraque Michel in the province of Liège on Facebook to seek revenge, rather to raise awareness and did not "want a witch hunt, just him to apologise".
The cyclist recently won the defamation case and has previously demanded €4,500 (£3,911) in compensation for the value of the bike he says he can no longer use. A court is expected to make a decision on how much compensation he is entitled to in April 2024.
The incident sparked widespread online debate after footage of the cyclist passing the group, his left knee making contact with the girl named Neïa after he came round a bend on a snow-covered path.
The cyclist, who was 61 at the time of the incident, handed himself into the police after an appeal was launched and spent a night in the cells. The public prosecutor pressed charges of intentional assault and battery to a minor, and the cyclist could have faced up to a year in jail.
Ultimately, the man received a suspended sentence and the court concluded: "the cyclist [had] dealt, by lack of foresight or precaution, an involuntary blow, without intention to attack the person of others, to Neïa."
It added that "the defendant should have taken into account the climatic conditions (snow and frost) and the presence of many people including children, on this holiday, to adapt his speed and his conduct."
At an earlier hearing on 3 February 2021, the cyclist said that he had not caused the child to fall on purpose: "When I left my home and set off, there was hardly anyone there. It was only on this portion, of about one kilometre, near the Baraque Michel, that there were a lot of pedestrians.
"I braked, I adapted my speed and I activated my 120-decibel horn. As I passed the little girl, I felt my rear wheel slipping. To avoid the fall I rebalanced myself by doing a knee movement. I felt that I had touched the little girl but I did not immediately realise that she had fallen."
Later in the same year, the defamation case was brought against the girl's father, Mr Mpasa, whose lawyer at the time stated: "We have the right to express ourselves. We have the right to post or have posted a video on the internet. In this case, we must check whether we have exceeded the limits of this freedom of expression."
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.