A dog-walker who pushed a cyclist off his bike, causing him to break five ribs and a shoulder blade, has been jailed for six months for inflicting grievous bodily harm, while his wife has been fined for claiming she did not know the assailant.
Warwick Crown Court was told that company director Paul Oliver, aged 49, fled the scene after attacking the cyclist on the Kenilworth Greenway in Warwickshire.
His wife Sarah Oliver, 45, and a friend, Lynnet Armstrong, 55, remained at the scene and told police that the cyclist had been assaulted by someone they did not know, reports Kenilworth Weekly News.
However, the police had already established the identity of the attacker by the time they went to the couple’s home the following day, ostensibly to take a witness statement from Mrs Oliver.
Instead, officers arrested both Mrs Oliver and her husband. She reportedly told an officer, “I’m sorry, we shouldn’t have lied.”
Gary Rutter, prosecuting, told the court that Jaroslaw Zachwieja had gone for an evening ride on his e-bike on the former railway line, which is now a greenway shared by cyclists and pedestrians.
He was riding at approximately 20 kilometres per hour when he saw the Olivers and Armstrong walking in the opposite direction.
The court was told that the trio, who were walking their dogs, were taking up half the path and he did not feel that he had to take evasive action.
But as he rode past them, Oliver shouted at him to “Slow the f*ck down!”
Later, after turning round to go back to where his car was parked, Mr Zachwieja passed them again, this time at around 12 kilometres per hour, and felt a “massive blow” as Oliver shoved him from his bike.
Oliver then picked him up by his shoulders and threw him back to the ground, before leaving the scene.
His wife and Armstrong called the police as well as an ambulance and claimed that the perpetrator of the assault was someone they had met on their walk but whom they did not know.
Ian Speed, defending, told the court: “The injuries were totally not intended, and could have been partly caused by the speed he was travelling at. If he had been almost stationary he would not have suffered such injury.”
But Recorder William Davis, jailing Oliver, said: “You believed he was riding too fast, given the width of the path. I accept there may be legitimate disagreement on what would be a safe speed to pass.
“You appeared to be angry, and as he went past you pushed him, causing him to fall off his bike.
“Although it was not premeditated, it was a deliberate push,” he said.
Given that Oliver’s actions had resulted in serious injury, he added that “Appropriate punishment can only be achieved by the imposition of an immediate sentence of imprisonment.”
Both Mrs Oliver and Armstrong had been charged with perverting the course of justice, but instead pleaded guilty to the alternative charge of assisting an offender.
Mr Davis told them: “Both of you lied about what happened. Fortunately the truth was quickly uncovered.”
Both were ordered to pay £1,200 costs, with Mrs Oliver fined £160 and Armstrong being given a 12-month conditional discharge.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.