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Motorist who racially abused and reversed into group of cyclists in “distressing” attack handed suspended sentence and banned from driving for 20 months

Four cyclists were injured and their bikes damaged in the attack, described by local police as “completely and utterly unacceptable”

A motorist who racially abused a group of cyclists before reversing into them, causing injuries and damaging their bikes, only to return moments later to unleash another racist tirade, has been handed a suspended two-year prison sentence and banned from driving for 20 months.

The group of four cyclists were riding in Bower Hill, Epping, on 8 January when a motorist drove dangerously out of a nearby lane before stopping his vehicle in front of the riders.

The driver, Harry Downer, then proceeded to shout racist abuse at the cyclists before reversing and hitting them. With the cyclists injured, the then-20-year-old fled the scene, before returning a few minutes later to continue his racially motivated rant.

> Suspended sentence for road rage driver who assaulted cyclist after making death threats

Downer was later charged with four counts of racially aggravated public order offences, two counts of racially aggravated common assault, two counts of racially aggravated beating, two counts of racially aggravated criminal damage, one count of dangerous driving, and one count of using a fraudulent number plate.

He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal motor vehicles, charges that were related to separate crimes committed across Hertfordshire and Essex between December 2021 and January 2023.

And last week, the 21-year-old was sentenced to 24 months in prison, suspended for 24 months. Along with his suspended sentence, he has been given a 30-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, must complete 300 hours of unpaid work, and must wear an electronic tag to ensure he abides by a curfew for six months.

Downer has also been banned from driving for 20 months and must complete an extended test before regaining his licence. Finally, he received an £80 for using false number plates.

> Motorist avoids jail for deliberately ramming cyclist who questioned close pass

Following the sentencing, Essex Police’s investigating officers Olivia Clark and Elliot Harris said in a statement: “We are glad to see the courts use the full breadth of their powers when sentencing Downer.

“It is completely and utterly unacceptable for anyone to be subject to verbal and physical racial abuse as was the case in Epping. We simply will not tolerate people being targeted in this way.

“All the victims and officers in this case have seen justice served with this sentencing. This has been a distressing investigation and we’d like to thank all our colleagues for the time and energy they put into this.”

> “Hundreds of pins” strewn across Essex cycle lane in bank holiday sabotage

The January attack in Bower Hill isn’t the first time that cyclists have been targeted near Epping in recent years.

Last August, hundreds of drawing pins were allegedly scattered along a bike lane on Epping New Road, near Epping Forest, causing a number of cyclists to puncture during their bank holiday ride.

That incident itself came just three months after two cyclists claimed that they were assaulted on the same road by a motorist who allegedly pulled up alongside them before throwing tacks at the riders’ faces and along the cycle lane.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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35 comments

Avatar
Bungle_52 | 2 months ago
3 likes

"A 33-year-old, from Stone, Staffordshire, was convicted of racially aggravated public order last month."

"The judge sentenced him to five months in jail for intentionally causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/c9elzg3py13o

That was just for the one charge without any of the other offences Mr Downer had committed.

It wasn't a cyclist on the receiving end and he wasn't driving a car.

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mattw | 2 months ago
9 likes

Why only an £80 fine for using falsified number plates?

The person who has had theirs cloned could suffer horrific abuse at the hands of enforcement companies.

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hawkinspeter replied to mattw | 2 months ago
6 likes
mattw wrote:

Why only an £80 fine for using falsified number plates?

The person who has had theirs cloned could suffer horrific abuse at the hands of enforcement companies.

Which would be an excellent reason to not use enforcement companies and instead get the police to do the job that they're paid for. Even though it's "only" a driving offense, there will undoubtedly be a lot of criminal behaviour associated with those vehicles too, so it's definitely worthwhile for the police to knock on their doors and ask a few questions.

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wtjs replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
4 likes

instead get the police to do the job that they're paid for

Unfortunately, the job they think they're being paid for is 'full time bewailing lack of resources'

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HLaB replied to mattw | 2 months ago
1 like

I'm no court system legal expert but I suspect it may be means tested against his income. Hopefully £80 is a significant amount to him  7

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mattw replied to HLaB | 2 months ago
3 likes

I'm not very convinced, I'm afraid !

The minimum seems to be a Band B fine, which is 1 week's income according to the scale.

Quite a serious crime according to the guide:
https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/offences/magistrates-court/item/veh...

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chrisonabike replied to mattw | 2 months ago
1 like

Yep. Need a quick 80 quid?  How about selling a bike...?

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Rezis replied to mattw | 2 months ago
1 like

Non of this would have happened if cyclists had to have numberplates... crying

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eburtthebike | 2 months ago
1 like

Harry Downer: nominative determinism?

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OldRidgeback | 2 months ago
1 like

He sounds like a charmer. 

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Carior | 2 months ago
20 likes

A racially aggravated assault, using a 2 tonne box of steel as a lethal weapon - and we give them 20 months suspended.

Imagine hurling rascist abuse at a group and smashing them up with a baseball bat... you can be damn sure that you'd be taking more than 20 months suspended.  

I'm a broken record but until we start treating cars like the deadline implements they are, we will never have safe roads!

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bigwheeler88 replied to Carior | 2 months ago
4 likes

Couldn't agree more. Murderers in waiting.

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Brauchsel replied to Carior | 2 months ago
0 likes
Carior wrote:

deadline implements 

No wonder drivers are always speeding. 

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MattieKempy replied to Carior | 2 months ago
2 likes
Carior wrote:

 20 months suspended.

This is not to defend the driver in the slightest. He deserved everything that came his way and probably more. However, I imagine that the suspension of the sentence has more to do with 13 years of Torydom reducing all public services in Britain, including the prison system, to the point of implosion. I suspect there were simply no prison spaces available to the magistrate/judge.

The same can be said for why the police fail to do what they should be doing: because there are too few police officers available to actually police!

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Rendel Harris replied to MattieKempy | 2 months ago
2 likes

For sure: judges have even been explicitly told not to send people to prison.

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2023/oct/12/england-and-wales-judges-tol...

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hawkinspeter replied to Rendel Harris | 2 months ago
3 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

For sure: judges have even been explicitly told not to send people to prison.

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2023/oct/12/england-and-wales-judges-tol...

Excepting members of Just Stop Oil or other justified protestors. Straight to prison for them.

Avatar
the little onion | 2 months ago
11 likes

£80 fine for using false plates? Is that a typo? Surely it must be higher than that? After all, a basic speed awareness course costs about £100, so where is the economic incentive not to use false plates?

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chrisonabike replied to the little onion | 2 months ago
2 likes

Just imagine the shame, though...

Since apparently cars are used as major tools to facilitate drug dealing (albeit sometimes rental) I'd have thought there could be public support for genuine penalties for these kinds of "admin" offenses as part of "stopping the pusher".

I'm probably deluding myself though as of course it'll be another way people use to distinguish themselves from the other. Like "Technically I did break the law but I'm not one of those *criminals*".
So my wheeze / bit of fun, your honest mistake (not a "real crime"), but *he* is a proper wrong-un...

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to the little onion | 2 months ago
13 likes
the little onion wrote:

£80 fine for using false plates? Is that a typo? Surely it must be higher than that? After all, a basic speed awareness course costs about £100, so where is the economic incentive not to use false plates?

Due to the difficulty of tracking down drivers using false plates, I would think that anyone caught doing so deliberately should have their license revoked permanently and at the very least the vehicle should be destroyed.

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the little onion replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
3 likes

The parallel might be the notified driver not giving the police information on who was driving at a particular time. If I recall, the punishment start with a fine of a few hundred pounds plus 6 penalty points. Which is of course too weak.

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hawkinspeter replied to the little onion | 2 months ago
6 likes
the little onion wrote:

The parallel might be the notified driver not giving the police information on who was driving at a particular time. If I recall, the punishment start with a fine of a few hundred pounds plus 6 penalty points. Which is of course too weak.

I see it as obstruction of justice rather than a driving specific offence. If the police have located a vehicle on public roads without a valid number plate, then it should be immediately removed and destroyed (or sold if it's valuable). If someone was found with a firearm without a firearm license, then I'm pretty sure the police would remove the firearm immediately.

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Grahamd replied to hawkinspeter | 2 months ago
4 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

If someone was found with a firearm without a firearm license, then I'm pretty sure the police would remove the firearm immediately.

[/quote]

You are correct, I know a widow who had a police visit days after her husband died to remove his  shotguns because she did not hold a licence.

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HKR | 2 months ago
9 likes

Suspended sentence????  What on earth is the point of the courts if someone racks up so many offences and just carries on with life with the mere inconvenience of wearing a tag.   This wrong 'un will no doubt think he's got away with more than one and the criminality will no doubt continue.

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essexian replied to HKR | 2 months ago
11 likes

Sentence seems about right.... we must keep space inside for those monsters from "Just Stop Oil."

/s

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Tom_77 replied to HKR | 2 months ago
2 likes
HKR wrote:

Suspended sentence????  What on earth is the point of the courts if someone racks up so many offences and just carries on with life with the mere inconvenience of wearing a tag.   This wrong 'un will no doubt think he's got away with more than one and the criminality will no doubt continue.

Prisons are full, I'd blame the government rather than the judiciary.

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mattw replied to Tom_77 | 2 months ago
8 likes

Prisons are full because Court Capacity was not increased 2 years ago to deal with the 15,000 people on remand.

It's short term Rishi, and his short term predecessors, not getting off their butts.

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Muddy Ford | 2 months ago
17 likes

like a pressure cooker has an escape valve, this country and many others allow prejudiced c%ts to vent their bile on cyclists. If cyclists had not been the target here, this arsehole would be in jail and every newspaper would be publishing how this nasty person had been jailed. I bet the mail are still working on an angle to print how he was the victim.

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bigwheeler88 | 2 months ago
8 likes

Hitting drivers where they hurt, in the driving licence, is a good start, but this is really a slap on the wrist. What's to stop him from continuing driving even without his licence considering he has no problem with using fake number plates and trying to kill vulnerable road users?

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Flintshire Boy replied to bigwheeler88 | 2 months ago
2 likes

.

You are so right, Rendel.

.

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Rendel Harris | 2 months ago
21 likes

So that's thirteen serious offences, seven of them violent and ten of them racially aggravated, no gaol time. When the cops said "We are glad to see the courts use the full breadth of their powers when sentencing Downer" one really hopes they were being ironic.

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