A teenage driver who repeatedly tried to run a cyclist off the road has been told by a judge sentencing him to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, that he had made a “bit of an unfortunate choice of victim” – an off duty senior police officer. Even so, the judge only gave him a suspended prison sentence.
Detective Inspector Martin Melvin had been cycling home from Burnley police station last July when 18-year-old Benjamin Harrison, who lives in the town, pulled alongside him and started beeping his horn, shaking his fist and shouting, “Get off the road. I will run you off the road. I will kill you. Get off the road,” according to a report in the Lancashire Telegraph.
Prosecuting counsel Sarah Statham claimed that Harrison had no idea that the cyclist was a detective inspector and that he had acted as he did specifically because he was riding a bike.
Burnley Crown Court heard how Harrison had made nine attempts to run Detective Inspector Melvin off the road, trying to hit him on the pavement and making contact with his handlebars and causing him to veer into trees, with the result he came off his bike. He also threw coins and stones at his victim.
The court was also told that the police officer had no option other than continuing along the same quiet road as Harrison since there was no means of escape available to him. Detective Inspector Melvin was, however, able to take down Harrison’s registration number, which led to the teenager’s arrest.
Harrison pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and to common assault, and Recorder Graham Wood, QC told him that he was “very fortunate indeed” to retain his liberty.
Besides the suspended sentence, Harrison was given a 12-month supervision order, ordered to carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work and pay £750 costs, and banned from driving for two years.
Harrison was arrested at his parents’ house, where it is claimed he told police, “Can I not just apologise?”
Police interviewed him twice, and each time Harrison made statements that conflicted with the facts as presented by the prosecution.
On the first occasion, Harrison maintained that the cyclist had gestured at him, and that to begin with he believed he knew the bike rider. The second time officers interviewed him, the driver admitted to further details of what he had done, but said he had turned round on only two occasions.
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.