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Road rage motorist who drove with cyclist on bonnet avoids jail

Footage shows Ahmed Al-Rawi trying to drive away while the cyclist shouts 'Stop!' from the bonnet...

A motorist who drove with a cyclist on his bonnet following a dispute, prompted by the motorist hitting the rider with their vehicle moments earlier, has avoided jail.

Ahmed Al-Rawi was convicted of dangerous driving and given a suspended 12-month sentence at Winchester Crown Court, banned from driving for one year and also ordered to pay the victim £500 compensation, but avoided an immediate jail term for his actions during a road rage dispute in Swindon.

The judge concluded that the motorist posed "absolutely no danger to the public" despite being seen driving with the victim on his bonnet for several car lengths in footage showed in court.

Road rage motorist who drove with cyclist on bonnet avoids jail (screenshot CPS video)
Road rage motorist who drove with cyclist on bonnet avoids jail (screenshot CPS video)

Al-Rawi claimed he gave the cyclist room, an argument the judge said "the jury is likely to have rejected", as they travelled through Swindon on 18 July 2020. When the rider challenged the 55-year-old an argument ended with the motorist driving off with the cyclist on his bonnet as the victim shouted for him to stop.

Moments later a police van arrived on the scene, with an officer ordering Al-Rawi out of his vehicle, and arresting him.

Road rage motorist who drove with cyclist on bonnet avoids jail (screenshot CPS video)

Prosecuting, Leigh Hart said after the pair became "enthralled" in an argument the cyclist had stood in front of the vehicle.

"The defendant I believed kicked or threw the bike out of the way, and [the victim] remained in the street in front of the bonnet," she said.

"Some verbal words were exchanged and the defendant ended up driving away, resulting in [the victim] being carried on the bonnet for about three car lengths.

"Officers intervened and stopped and arrested the defendant, who disputed the driving was dangerous."

The bike was damaged during the incident and following a 'not guilty' plea, a jury at Winchester Crown Court found Al-Rawi guilty last month.

At sentencing last Thursday, Judge Richard Parkes QC said the act was "plainly a dangerous thing to do" and "passes the custodial threshold" but Al-Rawi poses "absolutely no danger to the public".

The one-year sentence is suspended for 18 months and Al-Rawi will need to pass an extended re-test if he wishes to reclaim his licence at the end of the one-year driving ban.

In interview and at trial the motorist said he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder having been tortured in Iraq, while defence barrister Gareth James explained his client had managed to escape after claiming asylum in the UK.

"There does not appear to have been a great deal of speed, and fortunately the injuries sustained to [the victim] are relatively minor," Mr James said.

"It is a very short-lived incident and it is one which in my respectful submission could normally be dealt with by means of a community order, particularly when you bear in mind the assessments of the probation service."

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.

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49 comments

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nordog | 1 year ago
4 likes

How many Judges ride bicycles for pleasure let alone commute to their Court House, but in their Roller, Merc, Jag, BMW or perhaps chauffeured limousine?  

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lonpfrb | 1 year ago
5 likes

Our support for the asylum system shows our respect for human rights. Having benefitted from that, how could complete disregard for the rights of another human road user be reasonable?

The license to operate a motor vehicle is not a right rather a privilege contingent on compliance with the regulations. Having been proven not to be consistently able to do that a significant reduction of privilege is justified. A year ban seems low for the potential harm and willingness to commit it.

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EK Spinner | 1 year ago
4 likes

interesting that the term used is driving with the rider on his car, rather than "drove into" 

is there a suggestion that the rider sat on the front of the car himself or is a deliber\te collision being ignored

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TriTaxMan | 1 year ago
11 likes

The comment by the judge of that the defendant poses "absolutely no danger to the public" that should result in the case being referred for a sentencing review.

The judge has shown that they have an inherent bias in favour of motorists.  I'm sure if you were to pose a question to the judge of "if you were driven at and subsequently carried on the bonnet of the vehicle driven by the defendant would you think that you were not being endangered in any way?"  I'm sure he would feel very differently in his opinion in such circumstances.

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chrisonabike replied to TriTaxMan | 1 year ago
3 likes

This is the nub though.  Courts - explicitly with jury trials - take into account the judgement / "common sense" / prejudices of people and so society in general - to some degree.  To what extent the law codifies social mores or aims to direct them is something else.  However the broad view of society of road danger is "it happens" or "fixing problems / dealing with individual bad apples, if and when they appear".  That has of course been directed by industry lobbyists, politicians for over a century.

Presumably the judge really meant "absolutely no additional danger to the public - given that we accept that roads are where bad things occur sporadically"?

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TriTaxMan replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
11 likes

But why do motorists get special treatment?  

Do you honestly think that if this had been an altercation between say a pedestrian and a cyclist....(cyclist close passes a pedestrian, the pedestrian caught up with the cyclist at a set of lights and there was a heated argument. During the argument the cyclist deliberately rode their bike into the pedestrian knocking them down and dragging them behind their bike.) that any judge would have said "the cyclist poses absolutely no danger to the public"?

Or if the judge did include that sentence in their verdict and failed to give the cyclist a custodial sentece could you imagine the news articles for the next six months?

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to TriTaxMan | 1 year ago
0 likes

I think your analogy is on the mark... if you look at it like for like, rather than the slightly exagerrated example you give;

An altercation between a cyclist and pedestrian. Pedestrian stands in cyclists way and refuses to move. Cyclist decides to move anyway, and in doing so the pedestrian is pushed along for say three metres before one or other party releases. Neither party is injured. 

Can you honestly say that cyclist deserves jail time? No suspended sentence, but straight to custody?

I can't, and accordingly, I can appreciate why a degree of leniency is provided to motorists in these scenarios. The altercation is between two indivduals, it just happens to be that one of those individuals is in control of potentially lethal machinery. Whilst we all have a responsibility to society, we are all human and prone to momentary errors of judgement.

A suspended sentence states that this is not OK, and assuming there is no previous evidence of aggression, the chances are the perpetrator will not do anything similar again so is not a danger to society.

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hawkinspeter replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
6 likes
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

A suspended sentence states that this is not OK, and assuming there is no previous evidence of aggression, the chances are the perpetrator will not do anything similar again so is not a danger to society.

That's missing the point entirely.

The perpetrator lost control due to his PTSD being triggered by the cyclist that he presumably close-passed. I fail to see why that is unlikely to happen again as there is no mention of successful PTSD treatment or advanced driving course to avoid similar situations in the future.

This is why the driving ban should depend on successful treatment of PTSD (or so that they can control themselves when triggered) rather than being merely a year. The driver is subject to loss of control and is thus a danger to the public when in control of heavy machinery. I think a suspended sentence is appropriate, but a one year ban is clearly inappropriate.

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IanMK replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
3 likes

There is of course a system. The system basically says that if you have a medical condition that may affect your driving you should report it to the DVLA. The trouble is that it doesn't affect your driving until it does (probably the case in point). One would hope that now he's admitted that his PTSD affected his driving the DVLA now know, but the sysytem isn't joined up so probably if he still doesn't tell them they still don't know. What could affect him more is,  I would assume, that his insurers also need to know about his medical condition but they won't see the details of the case and will only see the 12month ban.

The list of reportable medical conditions is massive and other than the well known reportable conditions almost entirely self policed:

https://www.gov.uk/health-conditions-and-driving/find-condition-a-to-z

 The trouble with this case is that the court hasn't gone "whoa what do you mean your mitigation is that you have unreported PTSD" . One suspects because no one wants to volutarily give a list of their medical conditions to the DVLA - Turkeys voting for early Christmas come to mind.

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hawkinspeter replied to IanMK | 1 year ago
1 like

The problem is that we don't want people to avoid health treatment if they're scared of having driving privileges revoked, so I think we need to rely on individuals doing the right thing (and lots of people do). There's also the problem of undiagnosed medical issues which the driver is unaware of, so I think the answer is better road policing.

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TriTaxMan replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
5 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

The problem is that we don't want people to avoid health treatment if they're scared of having driving privileges revoked, so I think we need to rely on individuals doing the right thing (and lots of people do). There's also the problem of undiagnosed medical issues which the driver is unaware of, so I think the answer is better road policing.

Policing is only half the issue..... if courts consistently hand out paltry sentences.

For example, a 79 year old pensioner who struck a 13 year old boy "throwing him onto the bonnet and then up into the air. He landed about three metres in front of the car."  she "watched the boy bounce off the bonnet of her car and land on the street in front of her, but then failed to pull over." and "the former golf club captain simply drove off to make her pre-arranged tee time at Blairgowrie Golf Club."

For all of that she got 6 points and a £400 fine.........

'Edit' And back to my point about the media..... there was no national media outlet expressing fury at the paltry sentence.  What do we think the outcome would have been if that was a cyclist who crashed into a teenager, punted them down the road then failed to stop in order to go and play golf? 

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hawkinspeter replied to TriTaxMan | 1 year ago
7 likes
TriTaxMan wrote:

Policing is only half the issue..... if courts consistently hand out paltry sentences.

For example, a 79 year old pensioner who struck a 13 year old boy "throwing him onto the bonnet and then up into the air. He landed about three metres in front of the car."  she "watched the boy bounce off the bonnet of her car and land on the street in front of her, but then failed to pull over." and "the former golf club captain simply drove off to make her pre-arranged tee time at Blairgowrie Golf Club."

For all of that she got 6 points and a £400 fine.........

Agreed - we need road sentencing to be sorted out. I really think that anyone who fails to render assistance after a collision (and leaves the scene) needs to be permanently banned from driving. We need to get the psychopaths out of cars.

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IanMK replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
8 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

The problem is that we don't want people to avoid health treatment if they're scared of having driving privileges revoked, so I think we need to rely on individuals doing the right thing (and lots of people do). There's also the problem of undiagnosed medical issues which the driver is unaware of, so I think the answer is better road policing.

Does anyone know the implications of reporting medical conditions to the DVLA. If somebody reports their PTSD to the DVLA what happens next? License revoked? Additional testing? proof of seaking treatment? 

Take Alcohol Problems as an example "You must tell DVLA if you have an alcohol problem." If we did a FOI on the DVLA for those drivers that have reported an alcohol problem do you think it will be any where near the real number of recovering alcoholics let alone those that are not even in recovery and really aren't going to tell the DVLA. 

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mike the bike replied to IanMK | 1 year ago
5 likes
IanMK wrote:

 Does anyone know the implications of reporting medical conditions to the DVLA. If somebody reports their PTSD to the DVLA what happens next? License revoked? Additional testing? proof of seaking treatment? 

It's a straightforward system Ian, if little known.  Self-reporting of a health condition will cause the agency to investigate, including speaking to the driver's doctor.  Some conditions cause an automatic suspension of a licence, perhaps for a set period of time, others may trigger a permanent suspension.

As far as third-party reports are concerned anyone - you, me, the police, a doctor - can report to the DVLA a driver who appears to have medical difficulties.  The Agency will then make enquiries, which may entail the complainant and the driver being questioned by the police.  If it is found the driver may indeed have a problem they will be "invited" to attend a fee-free, practical driving test at their local test centre.  This test is relatively informal, may not include all the usual "L Test" manoeuvres and will be conducted by a senior examiner.

A driver who satisfies the requirements of the test can carry on as normal.  One who cannot do so will have their licence revoked, although they can re-apply for a provisional licence and sit all the theory and practical tests again if they wish.   A driver who persistently fails to attend the test will also have their licence revoked.

It's a case of a government system that really works.  Being of a certain age I know a couple of men who found themselves losing their licences after a test and also a few who have surrendered theirs rather than sit the test.

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lonpfrb replied to mike the bike | 1 year ago
3 likes
mike the bike wrote:

It's a case of a government system that really works.

Yes, I confirm that since following a skull trauma I was unable to meet the vision requirements so self reported and license suspended pending tests. DVLA sent me to Moorfields for the test, which I passed and license restored. So the system can work presuming that self reporting or third party reporting is done. This would have not been possible without NHS University College Hospital who rebuild my right eye orbit, with titanium, or my persistence to train the eye again. Stereoscopic vision is a wonderful thing so look after yours...

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Rendel Harris replied to IanMK | 1 year ago
0 likes
IanMK wrote:

Take Alcohol Problems as an example "You must tell DVLA if you have an alcohol problem." 

I didn't know that, how on earth is that policed (I've only ever had a motorcycle licence and haven't used that in twenty years so this is not a personal enquiry!)? Does the individual decide they have a problem? Does the doctor decide the individual has a problem? What happens if the doctor decides the individual has a problem but the individual disagrees? Some doctors will say you have an alcohol problem if you exceed the government recommendation of 14 units per week, i.e. a pint of beer a day. If your doctor tells you your daily pint is a problem and you don't report it to the DVLA, can you be fined for that?

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Hirsute replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
8 likes

No, the driver claims PTSD so who is to say how he will react to anything in future? There is clearly no guarantee that he won't be triggered today, next week, next month.

He should be banned until it can be demonstrated that is it fit to be in charge of a 2T vehicle.

 

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TriTaxMan replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
3 likes
Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

I can't, and accordingly, I can appreciate why a degree of leniency is provided to motorists in these scenarios. The altercation is between two indivduals, it just happens to be that one of those individuals is in control of potentially lethal machinery. Whilst we all have a responsibility to society, we are all human and prone to momentary errors of judgement.

And that point is the key difference.... a motorist is in control of potentially lethal machinery.  From a standing start a cyclist might be able to push a pedestrian a few meters and might get up a little bit of speed.  But a motorist could easily pick up a pedestrian, carry them much larger distances and at much greater speeds with potentially devastating consequences.

It appears from the video that the only reason the cyclist wasn't carried further was due to other traffic preventing the motorist gaining significant speed.

There is typically media hysteria accompanying any reports of a cyclist injuring someone, regarardless of the severity, by riding carelessly, calling for cyclists to be jailed etc.  which rarely happens when a motorist injures someone.

You just need to look that the Earlsfield School crash where a woman accidentally drove into a school playground injuring eleven people, including 7 children.... Its interesting that the Daily Mail would suspend comment on the reporting of this last week.  But any reports of a cyclist seriously injuring someone..... its a free for all in the comments section

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Shepton replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
2 likes

I think your analogy missed one very important point. The motorist,driving into a person and travelling along with them on the bonnet of their car has the potential to drive at any speed and kill them. A cyclist, starting from stationary and riding into a person does not. The point I'm trying to make is that the driver is in charge of a machine that can kill and should therefore have the mental attitude and responsibility to match. To compare a bike and car or skateboard and tractor or chainsaw and scissors - they are not comparable

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chrisonabike replied to TriTaxMan | 1 year ago
2 likes
TriTaxMan wrote:

But why do motorists get special treatment?  

[Pedestrian vs cyclist analogy]

Just saying how it appears to be.  I completely agree - double standards / inconsistencies leading the judge to make statements which sound completely contradictory etc.

My point was the normalisation of driving is deep - if you grew up in the UK it just is.  I don't know if the judge was doing this unconsciously or consciously (e.g. "I know this is not ideal but this is how I understand and apply the law").  But everyone learns early to accept that we have to have universal access for drivers, driving is a right, that people will just die on the roads.  If a driver was wound up we look for someone who provoked them.  After all we normal careful, competent drivers don't do these things.  He must have had a pretty good reason!  We ignore the fact that a car is as good or better a force magnifier than a knife or maybe a gun - because it's a car, normal people use them all the time.  It's not a weapon.

In our default world view the cyclist is the odd-one-out here.  Actually challenging a driver while on foot?  I'm surprised they didn't ask for psychiatric reports on them.

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Jenova20 replied to TriTaxMan | 1 year ago
5 likes
TriTaxMan wrote:

The comment by the judge of that the defendant poses "absolutely no danger to the public" that should result in the case being referred for a sentencing review.

The judge has shown that they have an inherent bias in favour of motorists.  I'm sure if you were to pose a question to the judge of "if you were driven at and subsequently carried on the bonnet of the vehicle driven by the defendant would you think that you were not being endangered in any way?"  I'm sure he would feel very differently in his opinion in such circumstances.

He close passed the cyclist, threw his bike, ran him over, and drove off with the cyclist on his bonnet. But other than that, he posed no danger to the public...

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ceewill51 | 1 year ago
2 likes

personally i think he needs a run back at his cost to his home territory wherever the fuck that is..ptsd my arse... should have been checked  if using it as the excuse for  such antics,.... i  know from personal experience what would have happened had he tried that on with the chaps i  used to ride  with he'd have been on his back needing dental treatment, and we'd be gone...

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Rendel Harris replied to ceewill51 | 1 year ago
7 likes
ceewill51 wrote:

personally i think he needs a run back at his cost to his home territory wherever the fuck that is..ptsd my arse... should have been checked  if using it as the excuse for  such antics,.... i  know from personal experience what would have happened had he tried that on with the chaps i  used to ride  with he'd have been on his back needing dental treatment, and we'd be gone...

So, you advocate sending asylum seekers whose claim has been accepted back to the country where they were tortured, and you and your "chaps" would revel in smashing someone's teeth in. You sound just lovely, and certainly no better than the perpetrator here against whom you are posturing.

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Gus T replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
5 likes

Another Nige alias perhaps

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Rendel Harris replied to Gus T | 1 year ago
6 likes
Gus T wrote:

Another Nige alias perhaps

Nah, Nige would have said we don't know the full story and "while I don't condone the motorist's actions it was clearly completely the cyclist's fault."

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pockstone | 1 year ago
5 likes

"Some verbal words were exchanged and the defendant ended up driving away, ..."

This is a strange definition of 'driving away'. 

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mitsky | 1 year ago
10 likes

Quote

At sentencing last Thursday, Judge Richard Parkes QC said the act was "plainly a dangerous thing to do" and "passes the custodial threshold" but Al-Rawi poses "absolutely no danger to the public".

End quote

Could this be included in the dictionary definition of "contradiction"?

 

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brooksby | 1 year ago
12 likes
Quote:

posed "absolutely no danger to the public"

Unless the public happened to be riding a bike, or did something he didn't like, or somehow otherwise triggered his alleged PTSD... 

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VIPcyclist replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
7 likes

Is this a good comment for the judge to make?
If cyclists are not members of the public, I know everyone is a member of the public in reality, then can't cyclists claim the violence doled out to them is based on hateful discrimination? Remember the judge implies, and if your honour is reading this please clarify, that cyclists form a subset, or group, distinct from the general population. The conclusion, apart from the obvious - that the judge is in error- is that cyclist need to be protected from discrimination and hateful behaviour by tough, robust laws.

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Simon_MacMichael replied to VIPcyclist | 1 year ago
7 likes

VIPcyclist wrote:

Is this a good comment for the judge to make? If cyclists are not members of the public, I know everyone is a member of the public in reality, then can't cyclists claim the violence doled out to them is based on hateful discrimination? Remember the judge implies, and if your honour is reading this please clarify, that cyclists form a subset, or group, distinct from the general population. The conclusion, apart from the obvious - that the judge is in error- is that cyclist need to be protected from discrimination and hateful behaviour by tough, robust laws.

What a bizarre comment from the judge. The defendant was charged with and convicted of dangerous (not careless) driving. By definition he was causing a danger to others, the following is from the CPS website:

"The offence of dangerous driving under section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is committed when the defendant’s driving falls far below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious that driving in that way would be dangerous – section 2A of the RTA 1988."

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