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Philip Benwell had pleaded guilty to GBH charge in relation to incident in Bournemouth in July

A Bournemouth cyclist has been jailed for 12 months following an incident in which he rode through a red traffic light and collided with a nine-year-old girl, leaving her with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain. Philip Benwell, aged 38, had pleaded guilty last month to the charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard that Benwell had been cycling "erratically and very fast" on his road bike as he rode downhill towards a crossing at Branksome Beach on 26 July this year, reports the Bournemouth Echo. He estimated his speed at 30mph.

Earlier reports suggested that he mounted the pavement, but according to the newspaper’s latest report, Benwell “veered into the opposite lane” as he neared the traffic lights, just as nine-year-old Leila Crofts was crossing with her au pair, named as a Miss Canibano. The pair were out for a walk with the family’s dog.

Initially, Benwell fled the scene but handed himself to a police station the following day after officers made an appeal. Sentencing Benwell him, Judge Peter Johnson said: "Miss Canibano was blameless, Leila was blameless.

"You are the only one who is to blame. This was an incredibly selfish criminal act. You took a serious risk in order to save a few seconds on your journey.

"Having struck her you callously picked up the bike and continued on your journey, leaving her lying unconscious in the road.

"This fractured her skull and shattered her family's life in one instant."

In a report read out to the court, a probation officer said that Benwell "shows an incredible degree of remorse. I have never interviewed anyone so sincerely remorseful for their wrong doing, whose concern is so focused on the victim rather than themselves.”

Leila spent two weeks in intensive care at Southampton General Hospital. The incident has left her with problems with her vision as well as her memory.

Her mother, Chanine Boulton, quoted on Mail Online, said: “'After the accident we feared she may have been left with disabilities but she is doing incredibly well.

“She had to re-learn how to walk and read music which she has now done, and has been home schooled since the accident. She is returning to school in January and is keen to do a 10k run to raise money for charity.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

47 comments

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Critchio [223 posts] 3 years ago
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Sentence seems a bit light to me, remorseful or not. He'll be out in 6 months, maybe less. After what he did and then also fled the scene....

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dave2041 [22 posts] 3 years ago
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"Having struck her you callously picked up the bike and continued on your journey, leaving her lying unconscious in the road."

"shows an incredible degree of remorse. I have never interviewed anyone so sincerely remorseful for their wrong doing, whose concern is so focused on the victim rather than themselves.”

Very odd that he didn't stop in the first place then  17

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bike.brain [7 posts] 3 years ago
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I don't condone his actions by any means but if this was a car driver causing serous injury to a cyclist would this have resulted in a custodial sentence?

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KiwiMike [1287 posts] 3 years ago
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For clarity and nothing to do with this case, how often do motorists get locked up for jumping red lights and knocking people down? I mean, if killing someone rarely results in a custodial sentence (as is often bemoaned here), I'm guessing hardly ever?

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Flying Scot [933 posts] 3 years ago
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A car driver injuring a child on red light at a crossing and not stopping would get at least as heavy a sentence.

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Rouboy [93 posts] 3 years ago
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Forget the motorist v cyclist thing... This chap left the scene where a child was severely injured there is no excuse. One year... not convinced this is enough.

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jason.timothy.jones [293 posts] 3 years ago
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I agree the sentence is light, but also agree with the comment about motorists doing worse and getting away...basically with murder in some cases

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Malaconotus [103 posts] 3 years ago
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Flying Scot wrote:

A car driver injuring a child on red light at a crossing and not stopping would get at least as heavy a sentence.

Nope.

Hit and run on toddler on zebra crossing, 5 months... http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Jail-woman-driver-ran-toddler-pedestri...

That's the only one I can find which went to trial. Most hit-and-runs like this the driver isn't caught. Of course, in this case, the cyclist turned himself in.

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Jonomc [30 posts] 3 years ago
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No one died, lessons have been learned, a year seems about right.

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IanW1968 [307 posts] 3 years ago
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Reading the story the cyclist says he was braking but couldn't stop, which looking at the hill I could understand, that would make it the sort of incident that is an accepted risk for car drivers.

In reality he probably was trying to keep speed up for the hill( wonder if it's a segment) and misjudged the situation.

As the linked story above shows motorist do seem more likely to get away with the unavoidable accident defense.

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abbeybob [15 posts] 3 years ago
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Knowing that stretch of road he was probably was doing 30. the crossing is at the bottom of a steep hill on a sharpish left turn. If you don't get it right at speed - and I've seen enough riders do that - you'll easily overshoot

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IanW1968 [307 posts] 3 years ago
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And to keep some perspective...this is the annual " cyclist is a twat and hurts someone" story whilst other road users are killing and seriously injuring 70 people everyday.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 3 years ago
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He got what he deserved sorry afterwards is not very strong mitigation for leaving his victim.

However I agree the same uncompromising approach must be take with motorists who cause similar damage and injury just to save a few seconds off their journeys

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therevokid [1010 posts] 3 years ago
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I always thought you were supposed to be able to stop in
the distance you could see ..... obviously not ... what a
complete toe rag. If he'd done that to my daughter I'm not
sure I would be able to control my reactions ........

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jmaccelari [252 posts] 3 years ago
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Good result. I hope the young lady makes a full recovery.

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petejuk [23 posts] 3 years ago
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It's a sad fact that, whatever the crime, many victims in this country fail to get a fitting conclusion. Justice is rarely served.

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Paul J [926 posts] 3 years ago
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Was the girl wearing a helmet?

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Stumps [3464 posts] 3 years ago
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He deserved a much heavier sentence, he has left a young kid with serious medical problems, probably for the rest of her life, and its got f*** all to do with "if it was a car crap" that people are coming out with.

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William Black [193 posts] 3 years ago
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I agree that there is undoubtedly a 'favour the motorist' in almost all aspects of Planning/Law/Media.

But in balance, in the news a hit and run van driver who did just get 12 years inside, Ok there are other factors involved such as intent and perversion of justice but still, just a balance to some of the comments above.

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CycCoSi [29 posts] 3 years ago
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Malaconotus wrote:
Flying Scot wrote:

A car driver injuring a child on red light at a crossing and not stopping would get at least as heavy a sentence.

Nope.

Hit and run on toddler on zebra crossing, 5 months... http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Jail-woman-driver-ran-toddler-pedestri...

That's the only one I can find which went to trial. Most hit-and-runs like this the driver isn't caught. Of course, in this case, the cyclist turned himself in.

and

http://road.cc/content/news/93465-mother-devastated-after-texting-driver..., although not hit and run I find this even more callous

jail-time more for taking the p155 out of the justice system than running over the child

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spen [152 posts] 3 years ago
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Anyone know why he was charged with GBH and not a traffic offence? (or have I overlooked something in the story?)

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wwfcb [83 posts] 3 years ago
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.

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wwfcb [83 posts] 3 years ago
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Paul J wrote:

Was the girl wearing a helmet?

Why ?

An attempt at a joke ?

If so, is there any need ?

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Jimmy Ray Will [653 posts] 3 years ago
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The GBH charge was of interest to me as well... Clearly a motoring offence was not viable to charge him with to get a custodial sentence... which maybe backs up comments that a car driver maye have received a lighter sentence.

Personally, I think the punishment is fair, he deserves a custodial sentence for the damage done.

However, I would feel a lot happier about this should the same application of justice was rolled out to all road users.

I like the idea of people being charged with GBH if that is what was caused. I have read many situations where 'careless driving' that caused serious injury (not death) can only be tried on the offence caused, and not the implications of that offence.

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 3 years ago
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I'm no lawyer but I'm surprised the GBH stuck. Isn't GBH a charge where someone intentionally wanted to inflict harm. A cyclist would have the intent to harm. Before the keyboard warriors have a go, this is my best guess.
I believe his sentence was appropriate considering the long term injuries the poor girl suffers.

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Stumps [3464 posts] 3 years ago
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guyz2010 - your right and wrong at the same time mate.

Sect 18 assault - intent
Sect 20 assault - without intent

Both are GBH just one is with intent and the other is without. This male must have been charged with a 20 because the intent part would be very difficult to prove.

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allez neg [496 posts] 3 years ago
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I see it as unhelpful to make comparison with a car driver (does anyone on here have motorised transport?) reinforcing this poor downtrodden cyclist schtick.

Had a car driver gone through a red light on the wrong side of the road at 30mph, hit a child and fled the scene of the accident then I'd hope they'd be similarly dealt with whether it be for GBH or some offence under the RTA, with appropriate sentence.

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mrmo [2092 posts] 3 years ago
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allez neg wrote:

I see it as unhelpful to make comparison with a car driver (does anyone on here have motorised transport?) reinforcing this poor downtrodden cyclist schtick.

Had a car driver gone through a red light on the wrong side of the road at 30mph, hit a child and fled the scene of the accident then I'd hope they'd be similarly dealt with whether it be for GBH or some offence under the RTA, with appropriate sentence.

You may say it is unhelpful, but the point remains that drivers who have behaved similarly have received lighter sentences. Whilst I have no problem with the sentence given, it does continue to highlight the way driving offences are treated differently to other offences, and not in a good way.

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shay cycles [384 posts] 3 years ago
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Agree completely. The issue here is about a cyclist causing a serious injury through seriously bad cycling and being dealt with by the law.

I think the penalty is probably about right. Some say a bit lenient, but if I think about being locked up for 6 months, most likely loosing my job and having this permanently on my record I know it would have a really significant and difficult impact on my life so seems a reasonable sentence.

If I want to complain about sentencing of drivers or other stuff, as I often do, I'll do it in another topic because I don't want to dilute this particular issue.

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TheCyclingRooster [29 posts] 3 years ago
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Hi to you all reading this shocking account.
If this guy was a local lad and knew of the specific location and the risks and potential hazards of this area, then it is a pity that he was not the one, and the only one that was injured and maybe with the injuries that were inflicted upon this totally innocent child.
By all accounts this was a totally wilful act of selfishness and with a total disregard for the unexpected in an area of potential danger.
The only aspect in his defence that would have any baring as to his sentence,was the fact that he surrendered himself to the police. Would he have done the same without an appeal?
That said,the sentence in my view is lenient and his bike should be crushed and therefore rendered totally unusable by anyone, ever again.
Bleeds within the skull cavity and of the brain can result in all sorts of complications,not least of all Epilepsy and Strokes.

This incident is likely to again raise the question of Compulsory Insurance for Cyclists.
What would have happened if this innocent child had died as a direct result of being struck be this cycling lunatic?
Hopefully this incident does not raise issues for the girl in her later life.

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