A motorist was handed a suspended sentence and ordered to pay £250 compensation after deliberately trying to injure a cyclist who he wrongly believed had damaged his car.
69-year-old Dennis Horton, who had previously admitted assault, failing to stop, and failing to report an accident, was adjudged this week to have used his car “as a weapon” against the victim by knocking him from his bike before driving off in an act of road rage.
The incident, which took place in Selly Oak, Birmingham, in April 2020, occurred after Horton had overtaken the cyclist along Oak Tree Lane before stopping at a junction. The court also heard that the cyclist had momentarily ridden in the middle of the lane to avoid debris before Horton passed him.
Prosecutor Jennifer Josephs told Birmingham Crown Court that the victim then passed Horton while he was parked at the junction, and in doing so accidentally brushed the car’s wing mirror with his elbow.
While stopped in front of Horton’s vehicle in the designated bike box, Josephs told the court that the cyclist heard a car revving from behind and “felt a strong blow at the back of the bicycle. He thought the defendant was trying to run him over.”
Footage captured on the victim’s helmet camera showed Horton driving into the back of the cyclist, knocking him from his bike. Horton then reversed his car before driving away from the scene.
According to the prosecution, the impact of the collision caused the car’s front number plate to crack and inflicted an estimated £2,000 worth of damage to the victim’s bike. The cyclist also suffered a sprained ankle and wrist in the incident.
Defending the motorist, Stephen Garbett said that Horton believed that the cyclist had deliberately hit his wing mirror, which caused him to act impulsively and “lose all sense of reason”.
“He considers what happened was stupid on his part,” Garbett said. “He did lurch forward in his car. It was a momentary lapse.”
Recorder William Davis told Horton: "There was no justification for what you did. He was stationary in front of you, and you deliberately drove into the rear of him. You should consider yourself fortunate he did not receive a more serious injury.”
However, the judge accepted that the road rage incident was an out of character, “impulsive and angry action”.
Horton was sentenced to 27 weeks, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay the victim £250 in compensation.
According to two recent surveys, Birmingham ranks in the top five of UK cities where you’re most likely to experience road rage. In a study funded by comparison site Compare the Market and published this week, 66% of motorists in Birmingham admitted to regularly feeling anger while driving.
A 2017 study found that almost two-thirds of UK cyclists (63 per cent) have experienced aggressive behaviour from motorists, while over half (56 per cent) believe the problem has increased significantly since 2012.
The survey also found that 85 per cent of cyclists were concerned about the behaviour of motorists whilst on their bikes, whereas 94 per cent said they felt safe and confident on the road whilst driving.
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.