A cyclist seriously injured in a hit-and run and his solicitor have warned of the dangers of motorists using vehicles with cloned plates to avoid accountability, making it more difficult for the police to trace.
Stephen Mead was left with fractures to his arm and leg after a head-on collision in Stotfold in Bedfordshire in January. He was wearing a hi-vis jacket and had lights on his bike at the time, Rita Alsoof — a solicitor from Irwin Mitchell telling the BBC — it is "particularly distressing" that the driver's vehicle had cloned plates meaning he "fled the scene selfishly" and has not been traced.
The 59-year-old says he has been "stuck in limbo" for the 10 months since, Bedfordshire Police saying that the investigation into the incident had been closed due to there being "no further lines of inquiry".
Mr Mead was struck by the driver of a silver Ford Galaxy or S-Max with the cloned plates YP17 HZK, an act which involved duplicating or stealing an existing number plate in order to avoid detection from Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras or for other roads and parking offences.
The hit-and-run happened on Common Road in Stotford at around 16.30 on 2 January, Mr Mead saying he will "never forget the image of the car coming towards me".
"I thought it was going to slow down and stop for me to get past, but it didn't," he said. "I tried to get up onto the kerb but it was too late and I went flying over the bonnet. Someone who saw the crash said they thought the driver was speeding, but I can't remember.
"I'm now back at work but I find I can't do as much as I used to. It frustrates and upsets me, but thankfully I have a very supportive team."
In the "incredibly difficult" weeks after the collision, and recovering from fractures to his arm and leg, Mr Mead was reliant on his partner for basic day-to-day tasks such as washing his hair or getting dressed.
"I'd be grateful if anyone who has any detail about that day to come forward. At the minute, I'm stuck in limbo and I need some answers to be able to properly move forward with my recovery," he added.
His solicitor is aiding a compensation claim and added: "What's particularly distressing for him is that the driver, who had cloned registration plates, fled the scene selfishly and without consideration to the trauma they've caused Stephen."
Bedfordshire Police commented: "Any investigation that has been closed can be reopened if further evidence comes to light."
In February, we reported that an 18-year-old cyclist had been seriously injured in an incident police described as an attempted murder and a "senseless act of violence", the driver using a car with cloned number plates which was later abandoned.
And in 2019, a road.cc reader told us of how they had been told by the Metropolitan Police that the driver caught on camera knocking him off his bike could not be traced due to cloned plates.
Mr Mead's appeal comes to a backdrop of calls from former Metropolitan Police chief Lord Hogan-Howe and lawyer Nick Freeman asking for cyclists to be required to display a number plate in a bid to tackle "dangerous" and "entirely unaccountable" riding.
Lord Hogan-Howe raised the issue in the House of Lords last week, while Freeman received a lukewarm reception on Jeremy Vine's Channel 5 show this morning, one panellist calling it "the worst idea anyone came up with" before a caller branded it "completely daft and impractical".
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.