Van driver who laughed as he drove at cyclists jailed for six months

Plus six months ban for man who swerved at group "for fun"

by John Stevenson   February 21, 2014  

Justice (Lonpicman, Wikimedia Commons)

A van driver who laughed as he deliberately drove at a group of cyclists has been jailed for six months.

According to a report from the Daily PostJoel Reece Morris drove his white Transit van on the wrong side of the road at the 20-rider group “for fun”, swerving back to his side of the road moments before a collision.

Many of the riders fell off their bikes as the group stopped, believing they were going to be hit.

Morris, 25, of Connah’s Quay, Flintshire, North Wales was jailed for six months. He was also banned from driving for six months and will have to take an extended driving test before being allowed to drive again.

The incident happened at 10.45am on Sunday November 17, 2013. The cyclists from Ellesmere Port were riding two abreast along the B5125 at Northop Hall, Flintshire.

Witnesses described Morris laughing as he drove at the group.

Afterwards he stopped and as riders approached him to get his registration number he reversed with his tyres screeching as his passenger gave them a V sign.

Morris had previously claimed he had swerved to avoid something in the road, and had not deliberately driven at the riders, but at Mold Crown Court on Wednesday he accepted the prosecution case in full.

David Mainstone, prosecuting, said that a female cyclist at the head of the group swerved to the left and told how she would have been hit if she had fallen to the right.

Morris had two previous convictions for drink driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

Jayne La Grua, mitigating, said Morris appreciated the seriousness of what he had done. He had sought the help of a driving instructor with his impulsive actions behind the wheel.

He was a cockler and the loss of his driving licence meant the loss of his job. “This was a phenomenally stupid and dangerous thing to do,” she said.

Judge Niclas Parry told Morris: “This was an inexplicable piece of dangerous driving. For some reason, known only to you, you decided to goad and, more seriously, intimidate a group of cyclists doing no more than what has become a very common, enjoyable and worthwhile past time of riding in a group on a Sunday morning.

“For fun, you deliberately drove at them to alarm them and to make them lose control. You drove intentionally at that group.”

Only the alertness of the cyclists prevented any major injuries, said the judge. The evasive action riders were forced to take resulted in some of them colliding with each other, with some falling off and sustaining minor injuries and damage to their bikes.

The judge mentioned recent incidents in which cyclists had been seriously injured or killed and said: “There is a duty on every motorist to respect the safety of cyclists.”

Follow-up: Ride leader Terry Hughes has given a detailed account of what happened.

66 user comments

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Pedant's corner - the judge must has said (and intended) pastime, not past time - two entirely different things and we don't really want cycling to be a past time activity!

Good report though Smile

Mike
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posted by Mike McBeth [72 posts]
21st February 2014 - 14:59

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Tom Amos wrote:
How on earth did he manage to get insurance with two previous convictions for drink driving?

Because it's a free country and a free market. Car insurance is a product based on risk and not any perceived ethical judgement. The number of accidents caused by people who have previously been guilty of drink driving is not (surprisingly) any different to that of the wider populace.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

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posted by Gizmo_ [646 posts]
21st February 2014 - 15:05

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Doubt PC Plod will find the time to do what Cyclists would love to see !

Anyone who visits http://bikinginla.com/ will be horrified to see 15 Deaths in Sth Cal , USA , already this year !

Time Bozo & UK created a version of :

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vision-ZERO-Worldwide/540123632761709

Only be daily reminding Poli.s that THEY are responsible , will any effort be put into keeping CYCLISTS safe on the road !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [372 posts]
21st February 2014 - 15:07

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"Morris had two previous convictions for drink driving and leaving the scene of an accident."

Come on, at what point does someone lose the right do drive for life? Somewhere around here I'd say.

Lessons need to be learned -

www.justice4rossandclare.com

posted by james-o [178 posts]
21st February 2014 - 15:29

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Mike McBeth wrote:
Pedant's corner - the judge must has said (and intended) pastime, not past time - two entirely different things and we don't really want cycling to be a past time activity!

Good report though Smile

Pedant typo, oh the irony

Argon18 E-112 - Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [166 posts]
21st February 2014 - 15:34

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Luckily he has an uncommon name and comes from a small town. He's on my list.

posted by racyrich [84 posts]
21st February 2014 - 15:41

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Not enough for the Road.CC flog 'em and hang 'em brigade ( whatever could be without the return of the noose) but it sounds as if the judge is actually keen on cycling which is a step forward. 6 months for dangerous driving and a ban is pretty much all that was possible for the offence.

I refer you, as ever, to my footer.

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [935 posts]
21st February 2014 - 16:06

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MercuryOne wrote:
Not enough for the Road.CC flog 'em and hang 'em brigade ( whatever could be without the return of the noose) but it sounds as if the judge is actually keen on cycling which is a step forward. 6 months for dangerous driving and a ban is pretty much all that was possible for the offence.

I refer you, as ever, to my footer.

The prison sentence was about right and a welcome change, the ban is odd though. The minimum ban for dangerous driving is 12 month unless there are exceptional circumstances. Someone who has previous driving convictions shouldn't really be getting a reduction and curious to know what the exceptional circumstances are to warrant it

Argon18 E-112 - Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [166 posts]
21st February 2014 - 16:12

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Six month ban for dangerous driving, despite three previous serious offences.

Sigh.

posted by dp24 [92 posts]
21st February 2014 - 16:41

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racyrich wrote:
Luckily he has an uncommon name and comes from a small town. He's on my list.

Yep, I'm sure cyclists in the Deeside area will keep an eye out for Joel Reece Morris, 25, of Mold Road, Connah’s Quay.

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/laughing-connahs-quay-v...

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posted by Simon E [1790 posts]
21st February 2014 - 17:52

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Sounds very similar to what happened to a local training group here in the 80's - except the driver didn't get back onto his own side in time - ploughed into the bunch - killed one clubmate - injured many others.

Driver left the scene of the accident and tried to hide his car, but was caught and prosecuted. Outcome? Driving ban and fine...

posted by JohnnyRemo [46 posts]
21st February 2014 - 18:02

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We have to start moving away from the idea that not having a licence is too awful a sanction for courts to impose, particuarly since growing numbers in society are demonstrating that it is indeed perfectly possible to live a normal life without a car.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [433 posts]
21st February 2014 - 18:20

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pepita wrote:
And what happens, a young woman who was ascending the hill in her car, looks straight at me and I'm looking at her, and she suddenly crosses the white line without any indication of her action, in order to park on the opposite side of the road! She clearly can see and judge my speed and you can bet, if I had been a car, she wouldn't have made that maneuver.

I'd bet she's some kind of sociopath, as is the van driver in the article.
You didn't register as a person with her.
Just my pop psych opinion.

posted by Cauld Lubter [113 posts]
21st February 2014 - 19:20

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Think he should be banned from driving for life as his actions were deliberate and therefore can't be trusted behind the wheel. Glad he is in jail though and lets hope he drops his soap in the shower!

posted by jimmyd [91 posts]
21st February 2014 - 19:28

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I see this as a good sign. If drivers can be given jail time for not actually hitting someone, then we should start seeing a reduction in the number of drivers who put cyclists' lives at risk. Personally I'll see at least one driver per hour who I consider to have been lucky to get away without knocking me off the bike.
Until the law is changed and the sentencing guidlines updated, this is probably the best way forward, and it is indeed progress.
I also doubt very much that his license will be delivered to him at the end of his ban.
I also think that jail time, a ban, a huge expense to obtain his license and loss of job is quite a significant punishment. He'll also be known by local plod (deeside isn't that big) and won't be driving illegally for long either.
I also must remember this as I ride through Deeside... Surprise

KalaBlinds 'cos we all need our beauty sleep.

posted by don simon [59 posts]
21st February 2014 - 19:47

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dp24 wrote:
Six month ban for dangerous driving, despite three previous serious offences.

Sigh.

Exactly, the criminal should have had a ten year ban following his second drink driving offence, there are ways of making a living without a driving licence, something the courts don't seem to acknowledge.

Probably because they involve cycling to work or taking public transport, both of which are probably alien to Jaguar driving judges.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [270 posts]
21st February 2014 - 19:56

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"Morris had two previous convictions for drink driving and leaving the scene of an accident."

I don't want this bloke driving at all! It has nothing to do with cycling.

He obviously has a mental problem and putting him inside for 6 months will only make it worse. Personally I would have him put down as a waste of space but that probably isn't possible because all you leftie cyclists would object.

posted by bobdelamare [15 posts]
21st February 2014 - 21:12

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oozaveared wrote:
JeevesBath wrote:
So he will be banned from driving during the six months he is in prison? That's going to hit hard then....

No. It will be six months after he leaves prison. Not sure why he should get a licence back at all. But 6 months after he will have to take an extended driving test. If he passes he gets back an endorsed licence. I don't think he will enjoy the discussion with the insurance company either.

Not long enough in my opinion but don't underestimate the impact of even 6 months in prison and the massive extra costs of driving again. Oh and plod will have an ANPR interest marker for previous DQ against any vehicle he owns or insures. So he had better drive nicely and make sure he doesn't fall foul of them for any minor things. He can look forward to regular document checks, vehicle inspections and will get to be an expert on breathalysers. Oh and with this as previous any more reports from cyclists about his behaviour and he'll get the book thrown at him and really hard (and I hope it hurts).

It's entirely possible the local cops will take a strong interest in this bloke. If they need to keep up their arrest records, he'll be an easy mark if his record is anything to go by. I do wonder whether he'll learn lessons from this, since trends with regard to offenders and modes of behaviour suggests he won't.

Publishing his name isn't a great idea. The local cops will have him in their sights. Keeping him off the road will be of benefit for car drivers, motorcyclists and pedestrians, not just cyclists.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1963 posts]
21st February 2014 - 21:53

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"He was a cockler and the loss of his driving licence meant the loss of his job."

Do we give a shit about his job, hope he finds Bubba in the showers in prison. Low life JOEL REECE THOMAS" get his retribution.

posted by Guyz2010 [278 posts]
21st February 2014 - 21:58

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If this moron had fired a shotgun at a group of cyclists he'd have been banned for life from owning a firearm. In 6 months or so (despite an "extended driving test") he'll be back behind the wheel of a potentially lethal vehicle. I hope the "extended test" includes extensive psychological therapy for psychopathic behaviour.

Sam

posted by zagatosam [22 posts]
21st February 2014 - 22:19

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While it is a step forward that a driver gets a prison sentence at all, I do wonder why other websites reporting on this have to drag up the same nonsense.

Taken from Daily Post, North Wales main local paper: (http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/laughing-connahs-quay-v...)

"Prosecutor David Mainstone said the incident happened at 10.45am on Sunday November 17 last year when the cyclists from Ellesmere Port were riding two abreast along the B5125 at Northop Hall, Flintshire."

WTF does riding have 2 abreast have to do with anything here?
It's almost as if they want to spark a response...

posted by mattpage [2 posts]
21st February 2014 - 23:15

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I'm pretty certain the *prosecutor* mentioned that the club was riding two abreast because it made Morris's idiocy even more dangerous. If the ride had been in single file, he would have missed them by more and they might not have had to take evasive action.

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posted by MiserableBastard [6 posts]
21st February 2014 - 23:36

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The justice system is a f*cking joke. This guy should have got 10 years for attempted murder and for the rest of his grubby driving record and been banned from driving for life. No one ever gets near even 25% of a full tariff of a notional full tariff of 10 years for dangerous driving so what do you have to do to get a pretty long sentence? Kill a whole peloton?

Airzound

posted by Airzound [76 posts]
21st February 2014 - 23:43

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"He was a cockler and the loss of his driving licence meant the loss of his job."

This says more about the simple-minded defence counsel than anything. How often do you see the defence: "He's really sorry your Honour, but he was too p*ssed to know what he was doing."

If I were a judge, I'd just double the sentence every time I heard that!

posted by BrianL51 [3 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 2:06

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I wonder what this poor soul will do to get around when he gets out of the nick?
Who will join me in funding the cost of a bike for him?
When that happens, perhaps one of the Cycling Militia (which I keep proposing should be formed) might perhaps (in all innocence of course) have cause to utter those magic words over his prostrate (and hopefully broken) body "Sorry mate, I didn't see you."
As happens on an all too regular basis, at best he'll get a slap on the wrist and a visit to SpecSavers.

K Stand Ken

posted by K Stand Ken [30 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 18:17

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Would suggest there were arguments for trying under 'a threat to kill' rather than just dangerous driving.

Yes it was dangerous driving, but that driving was done to make his victims seriously fear for their lives. Which from my experience on a jury is the definition of a threat to kill.

This carries (or at least used to) a 2 year sentence.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [108 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 18:19

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I think the custodial sentence is about right (I'm generally not an advocate of long prison sentences) - but our judges and magistrates really do need to be given greater powers to hand out LIFETIME bans, with no possibility of legally driving a motor vehicle ever again. Through his unrepentant recidivism, this moron has proved that he should never, ever, be allowed behind the wheel again.

Fact is, never mind what's gone on here (and people 'buzzing' cyclists for fun is something I imagine most people on here will have experienced, it's far from rare), given his previous convictions he shouldn't be on the road anyway.

And this is not a 'cyclists v drivers' issue; far from it. But the politicians need to get their arses in gear on this, and soon.

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posted by Ghedebrav [824 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 21:10

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If I were to shoot a legally owned gun at people for shits and giggles then I would expect to recieve a lengthy custodial sentence and be banned from ever again having a firearms licence. However if I were to hit somebody with this gun I would be far less likely to kill them than if I were to hit them with a 3.5 ton van at a closing delta of 50mph. That there are still people saying that this sentence is appropriate beggars belief.

posted by drfabulous0 [189 posts]
22nd February 2014 - 21:59

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The judge's comments are welcome and the jail sentence appropriate, but "banned from driving for six months"! He seems to have an optimistic view of how long it takes some people to grow up and act responsibly enough to be allowed control of a lethal piece of equipment in public. This is someone who has 'two previous convictions for drink driving and leaving the scene of an accident'. He will come straight out of jail and back into a car. How about 5 years ban to allow some maturing to go on in that head of his?

posted by arowland [72 posts]
24th February 2014 - 12:41

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Tom Amos wrote:
How on earth did he manage to get insurance with two previous convictions for drink driving?

[[[[[ It reads like maybe one conviction for drunk-driving, and one for leaving the scene of an accident. But either way, why, after his latest lunacy, is he only banned for a mere six months?
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [234 posts]
10th March 2014 - 17:01

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