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PC cleared of assaulting cyclist on roundabout

Triathlete broke collar bone after incident with policeman in 'Cycling City'...

A Bristol police dog handler who denied pushing a triathlete off his bike after he banged his van with his fist has been cleared of assault.

PC Paul Nesbit-Bell was involved in an incident with William Shackcloth after the pair came into contact on a roundabout.

Mr Shackcloth, 65, told a Bristol Crown Court jury that he was on an end-of-season cycle training session when he approached a roundabout, intending to leave it at the second exit.

According to the Bristol Evening Post, he had to take evasive action to avoid a van which pulled up to his right and seemed to be trying to use the same piece of road as he was.

After banging on the side of the van, the cyclist negotiated the roundabout but then saw the truck parked, with its door open and blocking the cycle lane.

PC Nesbit-Bell, who was off-duty, had pulled up in his van to see why the cyclist had thumped it in a “frenzied attack.” He told the jury that when he extended his left arm to the cyclist to get him to stop, Mr Shackcloth wobbled, collided with the kerb and fell into the road.

He said: "I made no physical contact with him."

PC Nesbit-Bell, aged 42, of Chipping Sodbury, denied assault occasioning actual bodily harm in September last year and a jury of six men and six women took 10 minutes to unanimously find him not guilty.

Retired aerospace engineer Mr Shackcloth, 65, who is a part-time swimming coach and took part in Olympic-distance triathlon events, said that he was pushed and lost control, breaking his collar bone.

The jury was told PC Nesbit-Bell, who used his van to run a part-time business in tree surgery and grass cutting, had an "exemplary" Army service record and had had several commendations during his time as a police officer.

He said he was aware of the cyclist and, as they joined the roundabout, the cyclist banged his nearside passenger door "five to six" times and moved his nearside mirror.

PC Nesbit-Bell said he parked up with the intention of asking the cyclist why he had banged on his vehicle.

He said: "I held up my left hand and I asked him to stop.

"Mr Shackcloth saw me standing in the road; he got up out of his saddle and increased his speed. He was moving to my left and he began to wobble.

"As he was in line with me, he touched the kerb. He scooted down the kerb and he fell off over his handlebars and fell back into the road. I had no physical contact with him. I didn't push him."

Comments on the Evening Post’s website were broadly supportive of Mr Shackcloth’s actions, with many saying they had had similar experiences of being cut up.

One, ‘Chris’ in Bristol, commented: “Most (cyclists) don't even bother to report such incidents to the police since they show little interest in taking any action, not surprisingly if there is little prospect of getting a conviction.

“I've been assaulted three times in the last two years, which I guess is not untypical. No action against the culprits of course, even when witnesses were available.

“If Bristol is to be a Cycling City then the attitudes of the police and authorities have to change.”

Others, however, warned against venting frustration at drivers by banging on their cars. ‘Opie’ in Bristol, said: “Occasionally a motorist will do something that annoys me (i.e. pull out without looking) but my main concern is not dying.”



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Jon Burrage | 14 years ago

yeah there are some rubbish triathlon riders (i could be one of them, depends how the race is going). It shouldnt be somthing we accept though. I was riding around near weston super mare the other day and saw how carefully drivers were passing some horses and wondered...why not similar levels of respect and awareness for cyclists?

the-daily-ripper | 14 years ago

commuting into and out of London every day pretty much puts me on collision course with many, many cars. And not one journey has been incident free, but you kind of just learn to accept it.

That said, there's a lot of terrible riders as well (I could well be one of them some or all days!) so I'm not surprised there's collisions. As to this particular case, it's come down to word vs word. As a jury member, it would be only as a cyclist that I'd be supportive of the case. As a normal everyday jury-joe, I'd take the word of the policeman.

Oh, and I do triathlons as well, but came from bikes, so I've seen many rubbish triathlete riders, but some astoundingly good ones!

hammergonewest | 14 years ago

I'm surprised that it even made it to court. Doesn't sound like there were any witnesses I thought the CPS only prosecuted when there was a better than 50 per cent chance of conviction?

That copper must have been really popular down at the station  3

John_the_Monkey | 14 years ago

PC Nesbit-Bell said he parked up with the intention of asking the cyclist why he had banged on his vehicle.

His assasination attempt not providing enough of a reason, presumably.

wild man | 14 years ago

Obviously justice has been done... it's not like the Police have any history of causing harm and then cooking up a story to cover their asses.

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