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Driver who "raised his middle finger" at cyclist before knocking him off bike fined

Benjamin Lang had faced a charge of assault and dangerous driving but was found guilty of careless driving by the jury.

A 60-year-old cyclist was left with knee pain and a shoulder injury after being knocked off his bike by a driver who moments earlier had given him the finger, Glasgow Sheriff Court heard.

The Glasgow Times reports Benjamin Lang was ultimately found guilty of careless driving, his second conviction of that nature, and fined £500 as well as receiving nine penalty points on his driving licence, meaning he is now disqualified for six months.

The 31-year-old struck Alexander Graham as they moved off from a red light on a road between Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs, in East Dumbartonshire, on 7 April 2019.

Mr Graham told the court that he had been cut up by Lang driving a white car on the approach to the junction, causing him to have to regain his balance before moving back ahead of the stationary vehicle.

"The driver of the car who cut in front of me raised his middle finger towards me," the cyclist said in reply to a question from prosecutor Jessica McGowan.

"I gestured, shrugging my shoulders like what am I meant to do," Mr Graham continued, explaining he had been left "upset" by the gesture.

> Calls for urgent action to "turn the tide on aggressive driving in Birmingham" after two cyclists killed in hit-and-runs

Then, as the lights changed and he attempted to move off, "I got hit on the side".

"I was knocked off my bike and hit on the right leg...it was over very quick, I was hit on the side of my leg," he recalled. "I have a problem with my knee which was brought to the fore. I was shocked, when cycling I have adrenaline running, I couldn't believe what happened."

A witness said that the driver had accelerated away, overtaking another car in the process. Mr Graham was helped before being taken to a police station by a passer-by to report the incident. The cyclist denied a suggestion from Lindsay Gaughan, defending, that he moved into her client's path.

"No...I didn't deliberately veer off into the car," he said.

Lang faced a charge of assault, as well as an alternative charge of dangerous driving, but was ultimately found guilty of the lesser charge of careless driving and fined by sheriff Joan Kerr.

Mr Graham told the court how the incident "brought to the fore" a previous "problem" with his knee and that he has needed physio treatment on that injury as well as one to his shoulder.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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27 comments

Avatar
bikes | 11 months ago
2 likes

I've copied this from the Glasgow Times comments underneath the article.

Ben lang
3rd June 8:33 am
User ID: 4653209
I was the accused in this case. Mr Gordon has left out many crucial points, facts and evidence out of this report which I would like to clarify.
I overtook Alexander Graham and was stopped at traffic lights, when Mr Graham caught up with me he filtered beside my car and screamed abuse at me and my girlfriend. He was unhappy with my overtake.
The prosecutions witness who was behind me during the overtake stated in her evidence that I made it past him and caused no problem.
It was when the lights changed and we began to move away that the incident occurred.
Alexander Graham stopped filtering at my car to prove a point, instead of filtering to the front of the queue of traffic. When we moved off I attempted to overtake Mr Graham, he moved away from the kerb in an effort to block me overtaking and slow me down.
I continued driving and my wing mirror clipped his handlebars, he was still on his bike after contact was made.
I drove away at a normal speed, there was no way to overtake the car infront as there was oncoming traffic after the junction. Alexander Graham confirmed this in his evidence when cross examined.
I will admit my driving definetly could have been better that day and I accept the consequences of my actions. However, Alexander Grahams behaviour was unacceptable. He aggressively sought out a confrontation and placed himself in a position of danger in order to prove a point.
The most crucial part of this case I would like to highlight is that Alexander Graham himself said that his injuries were from a previous accident and that this incident may have exacerbated them. He did not seek medical attention that day and the stretches he was told to do by his physiotherapist were administered 6 months after the incident. He stated he has been able to work as a builder, a physically demanding job, with no problems since the incident.
The court removed the part of the charge relating to injuries because of this.
A jury of 15 people found me guilty of careless driving. They had a choice of charges to choose from including; assault, dangerous driving and careless driving infront of them and they chose to find me guilty of the lesser charge after hearing the evidence. I believe this outcome to be just and I accept the punishment wholeheartedly.
If I was to meet Alexander Graham again I would offer him an apology, I'm a cyclist myself who has had his fair share of dangerous episodes on the road.

Avatar
HoldingOn replied to bikes | 11 months ago
5 likes

As always, three sides to every story.
Presumably he left a similar comment on the article from his first careless driving charge...

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bikes replied to HoldingOn | 11 months ago
8 likes

It reads like a confession of intending to cause harm (albeit not much harm according to him). No mention of trying to avoid a collision by braking or giving a wide berth, merely that the cyclist provoked and then blocked him and he just 'continued driving', and then goes to great lengths to point out that the injuries are not that bad.

I don't know the legal definition, but to me it can't be 'careless' if done in anger and intentionally?

Avatar
HoldingOn replied to bikes | 11 months ago
11 likes

"he annoyed me so I used my metal death box, that has had decades and billions spent making it a protective cocoon for me, to attack the guy with an egg carton on his head"
(That's if the cyclist was wearing a helmet)

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BIRMINGHAMisaDUMP replied to HoldingOn | 11 months ago
2 likes

Indeed - there are always three sides to every story; your version, my version and the truth. 

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chrisonabike replied to bikes | 11 months ago
8 likes

Thanks for posting.

We can't tell the truth of it of course.  However it is a little strange this kind of thing keeps happening to him.

The strangeness is not so much in that people take umbrage with his driving - plenty of people drive so inconsiderately that it makes vulnerable road users shout in alarm.  He notes in passing that his driving could have be better but clearly that's not remarkable for him.  No, the odd thing is someone keeps coming to grief after this, all because their behaviour was unacceptable.  While this chap was driving as carefully as he did before.

But he's a cyclist himself so it must be these other entitled / hair-trigger idiots on bikes.

I'm pleased about the other oddity here though.  It is unusual that these come to court and even more rare that this ends up with any effective punishment.  I'd like to see more of these kinds of abberations in the future.

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Rendel Harris replied to bikes | 11 months ago
9 likes

So prime takeaway, if this account is true, is that I saw the cyclist trying to block me from overtaking and slow me down but I carried on regardless and hit him. That's dangerous driving or assault, you're not allowed to drive into somebody just because you think they are being a dick.

The level of fine and especially the nine point penalty would seem definitely to indicate that the Sheriff regards the incident as rather more serious than the driver does. 9 points and a Band C fine indicates that the Sheriff regarded it as a Category One offence (higher level of culpability and of harm) rather than Category Two (lower level of culpability and higher of harm or vice versa) or Category Three (lower level of both culpability and harm). If Lang's account were true he's been jolly hard done by, if the victim deliberately moved into his path that's a low level of culpability and if what Lang says about the injuries is true that's a low level of harm, should have got three points and a Band A fine.

TLDR: Bullshit, Mr Lang, you've got away with one there and should count yourself lucky rather than whining about it.

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bikes replied to Rendel Harris | 11 months ago
4 likes

He writes as if driving into someone isn't that bad as long as the result isn't serious injury.

Also, I can't figure out if he stopped at the scene or he drove off and was identified somehow?

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Rendel Harris replied to bikes | 11 months ago
9 likes

bikes wrote:

He writes as if driving into someone isn't that bad as long as the result isn't serious injury. Also, I can't figure out if he stopped at the scene or he drove off and was identified somehow?

I know! I've mentioned this before on here but in firearms training one of the first thing's one's told is that if you make an error that could have harmed someone but didn't, you'll be sanctioned as if it did, "actually nobody got hurt" is not an acceptable excuse.

Sounds very much as though he left the scene, he claims it's not true that he left at speed overtaking another car (as the witness said he did) but doesn't deny that he left. Guessing one or more witnesses got his plate.

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qwerty360 replied to Rendel Harris | 11 months ago
0 likes

Rendel Harris wrote:

I know! I've mentioned this before on here but in firearms training one of the first thing's one's told is that if you make an error that could have harmed someone but didn't, you'll be sanctioned as if it did, "actually nobody got hurt" is not an acceptable excuse.

IMHO there is a huge issue that we seem to allow that argument (nobody got hurt) in some cases for criminal liability

Then in others we allow arguments (until recently) that getting hurt isn't relevant for guilt (just sentencing), so if the only difference is someone got hurt the driving doesn't then become careless/dangerous...

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eburtthebike replied to bikes | 11 months ago
8 likes

That was quite believable until:

"I'm a cyclist myself........."

The excuse used by every driver who uses their vehicle to intimidate cyclists.

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hawkinspeter replied to eburtthebike | 11 months ago
7 likes

eburtthebike wrote:

That was quite believable until:

"I'm a cyclist myself........."

The excuse used by every driver who uses their vehicle to intimidate cyclists.

At least that should make the driving ban easier for him. Let's hope he decides to pack in driving for good and focus on his cycling as he doesn't seem to have the right temperament for driving in traffic.

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Morgoth985 replied to hawkinspeter | 11 months ago
4 likes

Hope so.  Otherwise it sounds more in the same vein as "some of my best friends..."

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FrankH replied to bikes | 11 months ago
6 likes

Ben Lang wrote:

...I'm a cyclist myself...

In which case you know how vulnerable cyclists are, you know how to overtake cyclist and, more importantly, how not to overtake them.

I'd double the penalty for any driver who says "I'm a cyclist myself" as if that should absolve them from blame.

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OldRidgeback replied to FrankH | 11 months ago
4 likes

It is interesting hearing the driver's point of view and also the issue of the passenger's evidence. But as the other posts have pointed out, a real issue is that the driver did not leave adequate room for the overtake. Even if the cyclist had moved to the centre of the lane, which is allowed, the driver should still have left 1.5m for a safe overtake. The fact that the vehicle and cyclist made contact shows that there wasn't adequate distance and therefore, the overtake manoeuvre was not safe.

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dubwise | 11 months ago
2 likes

Apparently he is also a cyclist!!!!

Read btl...

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EddyBerckx | 11 months ago
11 likes

Can't help feeling far more anger at the juries or justice system people than the actual driver in cases such as this. They are both enabling and rewarding this disgusting behaviour. Sick.

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HoldingOn | 11 months ago
21 likes

SECOND conviction of careless driving and back behind the wheel after six months.
Disgraceful.

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mike the bike replied to HoldingOn | 11 months ago
7 likes

Console yourself with the realisation that his insurance premium has just rocketed out of sight.

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giff77 replied to mike the bike | 11 months ago
16 likes

Maybe. Except the gentleman concerned will probably join the other 1.5million motorists on our roads. 

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the little onion replied to HoldingOn | 11 months ago
2 likes

Yup. Well done to the PF for trying a charge of assault, but I can understand the not guilty on that charge if the flipped finger was one person's word against another's.

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Rendel Harris replied to the little onion | 11 months ago
10 likes

the little onion wrote:

Yup. Well done to the PF for trying a charge of assault, but I can understand the not guilty on that charge if the flipped finger was one person's word against another's.

It doesn't sound to me as if the alleged obscene gesture should have been the crux of the assault charge, the fact that the driver drove into the cyclist and then "accelerated away, overtaking another car in the process" ought really to be enough to show assault, or at the very least dangerous driving; unless there is some mitigation which has been overlooked in this report careless driving seems exceptionally lenient.

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HoldingOn replied to Rendel Harris | 11 months ago
12 likes

The fact it was a second conviction tells me the court should have been learning towards assault rather than careless. Granted two isn't much of a pattern, but it certainly suggests he won't learn his lesson.

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NOtotheEU replied to HoldingOn | 11 months ago
14 likes

HoldingOn wrote:

SECOND conviction of careless driving and back behind the wheel after six months. Disgraceful.

And then people wonder why so many die or are seriously injured in hit and run incidents every year.

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Daveyraveygravey replied to NOtotheEU | 11 months ago
2 likes

NOtotheEU wrote:

HoldingOn wrote:

SECOND conviction of careless driving and back behind the wheel after six months. Disgraceful.

And then people wonder why so many die or are seriously injured in hit and run incidents every year.

Definitely this, 100%.  Judges and juries also drive, so tend to not come down on "fellow drivers" that hard.  Driving isn't taken seriously in this country, nobody has any pride in their ability any more.

Why do they have 15 people on criminal trials in Scotland?

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Sriracha replied to HoldingOn | 11 months ago
9 likes

Gave the finger first - so his ensuing action was more likely pre-meditated than merely "careless". And I wonder what effort will go into monitoring/enforcing his driving ban.

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Robert Hardy replied to Sriracha | 11 months ago
1 like

Good reason to fit banned motorists with gps tracker cuffs for the duration of their bans. The cost of provision and monitoring could be recovered by utilising a student loan type tax recovery charge for the service on the convicted.

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