Bike rider says he was nearly strangled by taxi driver, but ends up in court himself

A London cyclist who became involved in an altercation with a taxi driver who cut across him has issued an urgent appeal for witnesses after learning that despite being almost strangled with a scarf by the taxi driver, it is he who will appear in court next week facing assault charges.

The incident took place on March 9th and the cyclist, Jared Kelly, faces a legal bill running into thousands of pounds even if he is found not guilty of assault when his case goes to court next week.

Jared, who has had to put plans to concentrate on writing aside to concentrate on fighting the charges, is understandably desperate to trace anyone who may have seen the incident, and in particular a passer-by who saw what happened but whose details apparently were not recorded by the police.

We’ll let Jared take up the story, which you can find on a blog he has set up here:

“I created this blog to reach out to the twitterverse in the hope that one of you, or someone you know, may have witnessed the incident below that led to me being charged by the CPS. If there is someone you believe might have been in the area at the time, then I urge you to forward this to them. Thank you very much for reading.

“On Tuesday March 9th at around 4-5pm, I was cycling west along Oxford Street, London, near Dean Street, when a taxi suddenly swerved across the front of me to pick up a fare and we collided. Following a brief verbal exchange, the taxi driver grabbed the scarf around my neck and strangled me until I was unconscious. When I regained consciousness the police and ambulance were on the scene.

“What seemed an open and shut case in my favour has gone horribly wrong in light of the appalling fact that the subsequent investigation failed to retrieve CCTV footage before it was erased and also failed to secure the details of a witness who saw the entire incident, and who looked after me throughout and assured me and the police he would be my witness. The police now have no record of his details.

“The taxi driver's defence is that I attacked him. A passenger in the car behind saw a scuffle and believes he may have seen a singular punch thrown, although crucially states he didn't see a punch connect (there certainly was a scuffle, I was having the life strangled out of me at the time) and on that basis, regardless of damning photographic evidence that shows vicious swollen bruising around my neck plus a police doctor's report that indicates the same, because I have no witness or CCTV evidence to corroborate my story, the CPS has taken the taxi driver's version of events and charged me with assault.

“In a week's time I will enter a plea of not guilty. My solicitor has warned me that legal costs could reach £5,000, and that's just if the CPS find me not guilty. [road.cc note – the question of guilt is decided by the court, not the CPS, but Jared’s point remains the same] I left employment just two months ago having finally saved enough money to focus on writing full-time, and was supposed to leave the country this week on a long-planned research trip, which now looks to be on hold indefinitely.

“This is a huge kick in the teeth to everything I have worked towards and leaves me on the brink of a criminal record for a crime I did not commit, while the person who was extremely violent towards me hasn't even been cautioned. Somewhere out there in this wonderful London town is surely a cyclist, motorist or pedestrian who was passing on that day and witnessed an enraged taxi driver strangling me. If so, I really hope you are reading this.

“I have canvassed all shops in the area for witnesses and private CCTV and return this week to speak to opposite shifts and put up notices. I have queried Westminster CCTV, along with their Traffic Wardens & Refuse Collectors who were working in the area at that time, and also queried London Transport about static and vehicle cameras. I am aiming to get ads and letters in the London press this week.

“Someone out there must have seen something. The sooner I find a witness the sooner I can bring an end to this unfairness and escalating costs.

Anyone who has any information is asked to contact Jared as a matter of urgency on cyclewitness [at] gmail.com.

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.