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Councillor James Atkinson, who ran the four riders off the road before flipping them the middle finger, was fined £140 and given eight penalty license points

A Devon parish councillor, who forced cyclists into a hedge before flipping them the middle finger, has been fined £140 and issued with eight penalty points on his license.

Two cyclists were injured in the incident last July, in which Bridford parish councillor James Atkinson tried to overtake the group on a blind bend in his Land Rover, before veering into the group of four to avoid an oncoming car.

The incident, which took place in the Teign Valley in Devon, apparently left one rider upside down hanging from a tree, and another impaled on a fence. Atkinson, whose reaction after the incident was caught on helmet camera, admitted careless driving to Exeter Crown Court.

Cyclists say enraged Devon councillor ran them off the road

According to the Exeter Express and Echo, Prosecutor Lyndsey Baker said the four cyclists were riding single file at 25mph when Atkinson roared up behind them and tried to overtake them on a blind bend.

Atkinson then veered into the cyclists to avoid an oncoming car, which was travelling at 20mph, forcing them into the hedge, and “a jumble on the floor”.

It is reported Atkinson showed no remorse, and he tried to blame the cyclists for riding four abreast and forcing him to the opposite side of the road.

Cyclist and hair salon boss, Rob Pierce, who shot Atkinson’s reaction after the incident on his helmet camera, calls the punishment a “slap on the wrist” and says one of the riders hasn’t been able to cycle since.

Mr Peirce, 48, told the Express and Echo: "We were riding single file along that road which is one of the few flat roads we can use. We ride 200 miles a week and we are experienced riders.

"One of the injured riders was a stranger who suffered a head injury. An ambulance was called for him.

"My friend Jason Acreman was also hurt. He hasn't been cycling since because of the emotional effect it has had on him.

"Atkinson's driving was the most aggressive extreme driving we have ever encountered.

"In my opinion he is going to kill or seriously injure someone. His attitude was outrageous.

"I am not surprised he has received a slap on the wrist. But he should have been banned – you get a stiffer penalty if you break the speed limit on the motorway than nearly killing two people on their bikes."

Mr Acreman, who suffered back, hip and shoulder injuries in the collision, said: "I heard this beeping from a car and then heard screeching and skidding.

"I was riding by a hedge and had nowhere to go and was left upside down and hanging out of a tree. I was quite lucky really."

Mr Peirce said: "We tried to speak to the driver about what had happened and he gave me his middle finger. I was giving him a piece of my mind that he could have killed people – women and children use this road – and he looked me in the eye and kept swearing at me. A lady driving the other way stopped and confronted him. She rang the police.

"We were cycling back from Tiverton along the Teign Valley. It was a nice sunny day. Atkinson began hooting along the straight road, it was not the twisty bit.

"He was aggressively revving his engine and beeping his horn and overtook us on a blind corner and took two of the cyclists out. James is a keen cyclist but has not been out since which is a real shame. One of them was impaled on a hedge fence and the other was left lying in a gutter. The driver did not show a jot of concern.

"The lady driver went ballistic at him but he sat in his Land Rover with a smug look on his face. It was unbelievable – and then he drove off."

According to Teignbridge Council’s website it appears Atkinson is still a Parish Councillor. 

41 comments

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mrmo [2092 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

going by the cyclists comments, in what way was this careless? As for the penalty! Out of interest is he still a councillor? 

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fatbeggaronabike [849 posts] 1 year ago
15 likes

Well perhaps now that he has been found guilty (albiet a minor penalty in that he didn't get banned) all the cyclists injured both mentally and physically will be suing him and his insurance company for compensation.

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brooksby [2235 posts] 1 year ago
7 likes
mrmo wrote:

going by the cyclists comments, in what way was this careless? As for the penalty! Out of interest is he still a councillor? 

"you are guilty of a careless driving offence if you drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place.

Driving without due care and attention means driving in a way that falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, while driving without reasonable consideration for other persons requires those persons to be inconvenienced by your driving." - AA.com

"A person drives dangerously when:

  • the way they drive falls far below the minimum acceptable standard expected of a competent and careful driver; and
  • it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous." - cps.gov.uk

I'll be honest, I would have called this for dangerous driving, but we know how much the CPS seems to hate inconveniencing motorists so I guess it was easier for them to get him on simple carelessness...

 

 

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mrmo [2092 posts] 1 year ago
6 likes
brooksby wrote:

 

I'll be honest, I would have called this for dangerous driving, but we know how much the CPS seems to hate inconveniencing motorists so I guess it was easier for them to get him on simple carelessness...

 

I have to agree, but how anyone can argue that this wasn't dangerous is beyond me. You really have to wonder what the CPS is thinking.

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bendertherobot [1414 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

It would be good to know whether he was initially also charged with dangerous driving and whether there's been some good old negotiation going on.

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srchar [454 posts] 1 year ago
14 likes

It would be amusing if his email address was used to sign up for many, many cycling-related email newsletters, wouldn't it?

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brooksby [2235 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
mrmo wrote:
brooksby wrote:

I'll be honest, I would have called this for dangerous driving, but we know how much the CPS seems to hate inconveniencing motorists so I guess it was easier for them to get him on simple carelessness...

I have to agree, but how anyone can argue that this wasn't dangerous is beyond me. You really have to wonder what the CPS is thinking.

I suspect it's not that they didn't think it wasn't dangerous driving - pause while I count the negatives there... - but that they knew that proving careless driving was much easier and less time consuming.

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maldin [146 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
brooksby wrote:
mrmo wrote:
brooksby wrote:

I'll be honest, I would have called this for dangerous driving, but we know how much the CPS seems to hate inconveniencing motorists so I guess it was easier for them to get him on simple carelessness...

I have to agree, but how anyone can argue that this wasn't dangerous is beyond me. You really have to wonder what the CPS is thinking.

I suspect it's not that they didn't think it wasn't dangerous driving - pause while I count the negatives there... - but that they knew that proving careless driving was much easier and less time consuming.

You are correct - of course, it would have been even easier for them to simply accuse him of a breach of the peace by having hooted too loudly, in which case the whole affair would have been done and dusted in seconds and he would have got off with no more than a talking to. We should be grateful they charged him at all  2 I honestly wonder what it would take to be charged with dangerous driving in this country! Sadly, the most likely scenarios I can imagine are either hitting another car rather than a cyclist, or injuring a young pedestrian - I truly struggle to imagine any scenrio that would routinely see motorists charged with dangerous driving in terms of their behaviour towards cyclists (even the recent event where a car was filmed accelerting in to the back of a cyclist, knocking him off,  not stopping at the scene and not admitting who was driving, still resulted in a slap on the wrist and no ban). 

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Housecathst [587 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I'm so glad this is seen as such a trivial offence by the authorities.

I don't feel so bad about hoping an HGV does the same thing to him and his family the next time there on the motorway. 

I hope the injured cyclists take his insurers for every penny they've got. 

In all honesty I don't blame the cps for not charging him with dangerous driving. it's nearly impossible to get a guilty verdict from a jury made of fell motorists. 

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Mungecrundle [705 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

I can't wait to see his next election pamphlet, or maybe that of his opponent....

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pwmedcraft [27 posts] 1 year ago
7 likes

That his email address starts with "BMWM5" is telling.

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HalfWheeler [600 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Interesting on what the council code of conduct has to say;

https://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=35569&p=0

 

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seven [154 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes

Wouldn't it be terrible if a printout of that page were to somehow make its way to Bridford council?

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cidermart [498 posts] 1 year ago
8 likes

Now that he is a convicted criminal, and as a bonus has a rather odd/kinky pastime, he is pretty much a shoe in for an MP in parliament.

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paulj [22 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

I am not sure he is actually a "convicted criminal". Is this a criminal offence he has been found guilty of, or a civil offence??

 

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seven [154 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
paulj wrote:

I am not sure he is actually a "convicted criminal". Is this a criminal offence he has been found guilty of, or a civil offence??

IANAL, but I'm pretty sure you can't be 'found guilty' in a civil court; only held liable. And certainly if it's a contravention of statute law (which this is) then it's criminal. The only question remains is he considered a felon rather than a petty criminal? I think probably not, but he should be.

Certainly at the very least he should be prevented from driving as he is obviously a danger to other people.

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HarrogateSpa [462 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

I am not sure he is actually a "convicted criminal". Is this a criminal offence he has been found guilty of, or a civil offence?? 

Yes it's a criminal offence - there's no such thing as a civil offence. A civil action is typically for damages. 

English law doesn't recognise the terms 'felon' and 'petty criminal'. Perhaps they existed here in the past, and I believe they may talk of felony in the US, but not here today.

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seven [154 posts] 1 year ago
1 like
HarrogateSpa wrote:

English law doesn't recognise the terms 'felon' and 'petty criminal'

Sorry, that last comment was poorly worded. I wasn't referring to felon/petty criminal as legal terms, more a shorthand classification for how a particular crime is viewed by society. AFAIK all crimes are misdemeanors in English law, but I'd imagine if you asked the "man on the Clapham omnibus" to rate careless (as opposed to dangerous) driving as either a petty or serious offence, they'd probably go for petty.

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Bez [608 posts] 1 year ago
17 likes

Have a go at the guy for being a selfish, angry, bigoted danger to others, who shouldn't be allowed on the road.

But don't ridicule people for their sexual preferences or for any harmless minority activities that you personally find amusing or look down upon.

Remember, that's some people's view of men who put on skin-tight shorts and play on children's toys together on a Sunday morning, and that's what ends up with selfish, angry, bigoted Idiots driving 4x4s into them.

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Leviathan [2558 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Serves them right for riding single file, next time 4 abreast.

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hawkinspeter [679 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
Bez wrote:

Have a go at the guy for being a selfish, angry, bigoted danger to others, who shouldn't be allowed on the road. But don't ridicule people for their sexual preferences or for any harmless minority activities that you personally find amusing or look down upon. Remember, that's some people's view of men who put on skin-tight shorts and play on children's toys together on a Sunday morning, and that's what ends up with selfish, angry, bigoted Idiots driving 4x4s into them.

Well said!

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brooksby [2235 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

Wow, this comment thread got redacted a great deal, didn't it? The bloke's contact details were out there on the internet, but I guess the admins took exception to people's digging up some not-exactly-mainstream hobbies... Point is, eight points on his licence should be "do anything else and you'll lose your licence, sonny-boy" - but we know how that works, don't we? - IMO, eight points and a hundred odd quid fine is not an appropriate punishment, but I don't work for the CPS.

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dougie_c [33 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes

Back in the old days—about three hours ago—this thread contained 28 comments, some lavishly illustrated.  The site's lawyers—and Parish Councillor Atkinson—are surely happier with it now.

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tsarouxaz [65 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes

Hey, wait a minute, was it four cyclists and he dared to show the midle finger? why didn't  they beat the shit out of him? Get this fuck face slamed about 10 times on the steering wheel and lets then see if he does it again!! courts my ass!!

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Fifth Gear [108 posts] 1 year ago
4 likes
tsarouxaz wrote:

Hey, wait a minute, was it four cyclists and he dared to show the midle finger? why didn't  they beat the shit out of him? Get this fuck face slamed about 10 times on the steering wheel and lets then see if he does it again!! courts my ass!!

But assault is taken very seriously by the police, CPS and the courts.....unless it is committed using a motor vehicle as a weapon. Not only are cyclists expected to be injured and killed by motorists as a matter of course but they are required to accept the oppression of the authorities who allow and condone it.

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Cupotea [19 posts] 1 year ago
3 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:
Bez wrote:

Have a go at the guy for being a selfish, angry, bigoted danger to others, who shouldn't be allowed on the road. But don't ridicule people for their sexual preferences or for any harmless minority activities that you personally find amusing or look down upon. Remember, that's some people's view of men who put on skin-tight shorts and play on children's toys together on a Sunday morning, and that's what ends up with selfish, angry, bigoted Idiots driving 4x4s into them.

Well said!

 

"or for any harmless minority activities that you personally find amusing or look down upon"  a bit like those cyclists, hence my comment of karma before the great purge. I don't care what people do if it doesn't hurt others but this seemed like borderline irony.

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PaulBox [644 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes
tsarouxaz wrote:

Hey, wait a minute, was it four cyclists and he dared to show the midle finger? why didn't  they beat the shit out of him? Get this fuck face slamed about 10 times on the steering wheel and lets then see if he does it again!! courts my ass!!

I'm with you mate, I just don't know how the non-injured members of this group were able to control their tempers. I would have gone absolutely mental. I know that's not big or clever, but the amount of anger I feel just reading about it.

Despicable little prick....

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benbrangwyn [4 posts] 1 year ago
5 likes

I have written a polite email to all the councillors on the Bridford Parish Council page asking whether they consider it appropriate that they continue supporting a councillor who has such a cavalier attitude to the life of others and who demonstrates such dangerous sociopathological behaviours. 

The emails are: 

jfm2 [at] btinternet.comgeoff.hearnden [at] btinternet.comTrevelyan [at] burnicombe.eclipse.co.ukelisabeth.price [at] gmail.comrog.dowding [at] gmail.comslee [at] dartmoor-npa.gov.uk

If you do choose to write to them, please be aware that any irrational blasts, however appropriate in the circumstances, will probably have a negative effect. The end result we'd be looking for is that this dangerous man becomes a social pariah to help him on his journey of self-discovery and remorse.

Here's my email:

--------------------------------
To whom it may concern,
As a long term (and current) user of Devon's road both as a driver and a cyclist, I was appalled to learn of the exceedingly dangerous behaviour exhibited by Councillor Atkinson when he recently ran several cyclists off the road, endangering their lives and the lives of other car users. In addition, his behaviour directly following the accident - not alerting the emergency services and extreme rudeness to the people he'd almost just killed - surely needs to be condemned in the most emphatic way by the Bridford council.
Further, I would suggest that such a disregard for human life is not consistent with the values and intentions of your council, and it would be incumbent upon you to fulfil your civic duties by publicly distancing yourself from this behaviour and the man himself.
I would very much like to know what your intentions are in this matter.
Regards. Ben Brangwyn
--------------------------------

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HalfWheeler [600 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Lovely chap.

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giskard [65 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
benbrangwyn wrote:

I have written a polite email to all the councillors on the Bridford Parish Council page asking whether they consider it appropriate that they continue supporting a councillor who has such a cavalier attitude to the life of others and who demonstrates such dangerous sociopathological behaviours. 

The emails are: 

jfm2 [at] btinternet.comgeoff.hearnden [at] btinternet.comTrevelyan [at] burnicombe.eclipse.co.ukelisabeth.price [at] gmail.comrog.dowding [at] gmail.comslee [at] dartmoor-npa.gov.uk

If you do choose to write to them, please be aware that any irrational blasts, however appropriate in the circumstances, will probably have a negative effect. The end result we'd be looking for is that this dangerous man becomes a social pariah to help him on his journey of self-discovery and remorse.

Here's my email:

--------------------------------
To whom it may concern,
As a long term (and current) user of Devon's road both as a driver and a cyclist, I was appalled to learn of the exceedingly dangerous behaviour exhibited by Councillor Atkinson when he recently ran several cyclists off the road, endangering their lives and the lives of other car users. In addition, his behaviour directly following the accident - not alerting the emergency services and extreme rudeness to the people he'd almost just killed - surely needs to be condemned in the most emphatic way by the Bridford council.
Further, I would suggest that such a disregard for human life is not consistent with the values and intentions of your council, and it would be incumbent upon you to fulfil your civic duties by publicly distancing yourself from this behaviour and the man himself.
I would very much like to know what your intentions are in this matter.
Regards. Ben Brangwyn
--------------------------------

Could also add that he's in breach of items 1 and 2 from the Bridford Parish Council Code of Conduct as published in a PDF file produced by the parish council

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