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Lost temper with group of 12 cyclists riding two abreast

A Derbyshire man who repeatedly swerved into a group of cyclists and hit one of them has been jailed for 16 weeks after pleading guilty to dangerous driving. 50-year-old John Rafferty lost his temper while attempting to get past a dozen cyclists, two of whom were 12-year-old boys.

The Derby Telegraph reports that the incident took place in Fauld Lane, at Coton in the Clay, near Tutbury, on July 26 last year.

A local cycling club, CC Giro, were riding two abreast when Rafferty drove up behind.

Peter Bettany, prosecuting, told Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court: "The defendant started to sound his horn for long periods, tried to pull past them and swerved into them on three occasions, deliberately squirting his screen wash as he did so and showering the cyclist.

"One of the lead riders rode past him and started to remonstrate through the window, before pulling in front of him. This seemed to annoy the defendant even more and he drove within inches of the lead rider eventually hitting his back tyre and sending him off his bike and into the side of the road."

At this point Rafferty and the cyclists stopped until the police arrived. The motorist was charged with dangerous driving to which he pleaded guilty at his third court hearing.

Speaking outside the hearing, the man who was injured, said: "I am in my 60s and I have ridden for more than 50 years, including leading cycling tour holidays in the UK and abroad, and I have never experienced road rage like this in all of that time."

District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said: "This involved you using your motor vehicle as a weapon against a vulnerable group of road users in what can be termed a road rage incident.

"Cyclists are vulnerable not because they don't know how to use the road but because they lack protection from impacts such as this. You firstly intimidated them because you wanted to get past them, sounding your horn continuously for 25 or 30 seconds.

"There were cyclists as young as 12 in that group and the way you drove would have caused them fear and anxiety. You attempted to overtake the group and swerved into them on three occasions and using your screen wash against them.

"Finally, when one of them rode past you to remonstrate you ran him off the road and into a hedge. This could have resulted in absolutely catastrophic and life-changing injuries for the cyclist involved."

Rafferty was also handed a 112-week road ban. Cycling UK’s Head of Campaigns and Advocacy, Duncan Dollimore questioned this.

“So the red mist came down and Rafferty decided to use his car as a weapon against children as young as twelve: all because he couldn’t wait to overtake. If momentary delay is all it takes for Rafferty to react in this way, you have to question whether he has the right temperament to be back behind the wheel of a car in just over two years’ time.

“Presumably the assumption is that he will by then be a man chastened by experience, and a more tolerant and patient driver. Perhaps, rather than crossing fingers and hoping for transformation, it should be for Rafferty to prove he’s fit to drive before he gets back behind a wheel.

“What the UK needs are longer disqualifications, and greater use of re-tests before banned drivers recover their licences. The Government could of course always look at that, if they got in with the full review of road traffic offences and penalties they promised back in 2014.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

29 comments

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Grahamd [597 posts] 1 week ago
5 likes

Can't help but wonder what would have happened if he didn't admit his guilt.

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Samtheeagle [8 posts] 1 week ago
14 likes

And if the injured party had been a Police Officer the perp would have got 2 years (See Lincs eg reported in Road CC)

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STATO [542 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes
Grahamd wrote:

Can't help but wonder what would have happened if he didn't admit his guilt.

Well clearly his legal advisor suggested he plead guilty, suggesting they feared it was very likely to get a worse sentance.

 

If you cant help wonder, wonder how it would have ended if the lead rider hadnt tried to block him in.

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harragan [202 posts] 1 week ago
6 likes

It seems like a crazy move to purposely ride in front of someone who has already shown they're a danger to other road users.  Not something I would recommend.  

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Morgoth985 [58 posts] 1 week ago
13 likes

District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said: "This involved you using your motor vehicle as a weapon . . .".  Yes, indeed it did.  And in other cases brandishing a weapon at a group of people, including 12 year old children, in order to cause them "fear and anxiety", would have resulted in what sentence?

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jasecd [471 posts] 1 week ago
10 likes
harragan wrote:

It seems like a crazy move to purposely ride in front of someone who has already shown they're a danger to other road users.  Not something I would recommend.  

 

Unfortunately, I've always found that when I am wilfully endangered I don't react that well or even completely rationally. Sure the safest thing to do would be avoid any further confrontation but when the adrenaline hits and my heart rate rockets I find myself wanting to confront the driver responsible. 

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Daveyraveygravey [532 posts] 1 week ago
14 likes
STATO wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

Can't help but wonder what would have happened if he didn't admit his guilt.

Well clearly his legal advisor suggested he plead guilty, suggesting they feared it was very likely to get a worse sentance.

 

If you cant help wonder, wonder how it would have ended if the lead rider hadnt tried to block him in.

 

Hmm, so what are we as cyclists supposed to do, just take this shit intimidatory behaviour just because someone is in a car?  I cannot turn the other cheek, I won't let anyone close pass me even, without shouting after them.  I don't care if it gets me or "Cyclists" a bad name, I am not putting up with it.  It is my road as much as theirs and I am not going to let them harass me into not riding.

 

It took him three goes to admit to it.  I hope they hit him with all the costs too, and I bet he doesn't serve the whole of his ban either.

We need traffic cops out on the streets, who know the rules of the road, and who can act when they see cases like this.  Not  more speed cams.

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alansmurphy [746 posts] 1 week ago
11 likes

The judge seems to rip into him and then give him a nothing sentence, replace the car with a baseball bat and what would the outcome be?

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muhasib [24 posts] 1 week ago
4 likes

In the source article the defence solicitor said his client was disabled and immediate custody would have an impact on his condition.

So we need to feel sympathy for the perpetrator as the victim instead?

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muhasib [24 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

The outcome of this case doesn't seem to have deterred the other locals of their attitude to cyclists if reading the comments below the article in the Derby Telegraph are anything to go by.

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alansmurphy [746 posts] 1 week ago
10 likes

I'm disabled, can i go around the local car park with a stabby device?

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pjm60 [14 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes
Samtheeagle wrote:

And if the injured party had been a Police Officer the perp would have got 2 years (See Lincs eg reported in Road CC)

 

And if the driver didn't stop. And if the driver caused serious injury. And if the driver was drunk. And if the driver then tried to conceal his drunken state. Apples and oranges.

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ChrisB200SX [496 posts] 1 week ago
4 likes

I don't normally react to these in quite this way, but seriously, 16 weeks?! Presumably he's getting psychiatric help that is gauranteed to rehabilitate him in that time?

Comparing to the recent article of the drunk driver who made off and was later caught... who got 2 years. Does this show that the courts believe that accidentally hitting a cyclist with a car when over the prescribed alcohol limit and driving off is 6 times worse than deliberately and repeatedly swerving into a group of cyclists and then crashing into one them (along with his other nasty behaviour)?

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Grumpy17 [75 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

In the grand scheme of things it's not a bad result.Conviction for dangerous driving, 2 year ban and 2 months in prison. He won't do the same again in a hurry.

You could draw a parallel with a case like the following and question why the sentence was more lenient.

Maybe in the earlier London case  the driver's actions in ramming the cyclist could be regarded by comparison as being more pre-meditated and deliberate and malicious than in this one. Hard to say..

 

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/driver-who-rammed-cyclist-in-road-...

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Moza [9 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
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oldstrath [828 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
muhasib wrote:

In the source article the defence solicitor said his client was disabled and immediate custody would have an impact on his condition. So we need to feel sympathy for the perpetrator as the victim instead?

Perhaps he should have thought about this before using an offensive weapon?

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Yorkshire wallet [1344 posts] 1 week ago
7 likes

These people are everywhere. Came across a literal train of them the other week. I'd caught up a group of 4 who were riding 2x2 but not wanting to take a wheel I hung back a bit as I didn't have the ummphh to get past really. Anyway, I became 'aware' of drivers behind getting a little too close behind and there literally wasn't any safe place to overtake.....for about 30 seconds.

The end result was the first came past with passenger shouting at me out of the window ("get off the roads" or something), second and third honking and the last car's passenger swearing and waving his fists in my direction. Group in front got the same.

What really annoys me is  most of these people wouldn't see the irony of themselves holding me up when I'm in my car. If I overtook shouting "get off the roads" to every fucker doing 40 in a 60, I'd no doubt get arrested eventually.

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SculturaD [4 posts] 1 week ago
3 likes

So uses his vehicle as a "weapon" caused fear & alarm.

If this was someone out legally shooting and caused fear & alarm to a member of the public, their license would be suspended and if found guilty, said license would be revoked.

Driving license is a privilege not a right and the judge seem to be living in cloud cuckoo land as that is simply not a fit punishment for the crime commited.

Time that judge either stepped down or was up for an internal inquiry into his fitness to serve.

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kitsunegari [262 posts] 1 week ago
7 likes

Deliberately using your car as a weapon should not end with a result that sees you allowed back on the road, after any period of time.

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dog_film [22 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
Daveyraveyngravey wrote:
STATO wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

It's very difficult not to agree with this statement. I too try to contain my enthusiasm for confrontation.
I joined Police Witness, always ride wth a GoPro and always, always upload the footage. This then goes to the correct police force and I am then contacted with a result.
If it's a works van then just send the footage to the head office. This proves even more productive.
Both though can give you far more satisfaction than the usual name calling, physical altercation.
Of course when contacting the police do he mindful that the accused may have access to your address. There may be revenge tactics later on? I haven't had this but be aware. Also your town is a very small place And especially on a commute you will run into that person time and again. Amusing though if, like me you caught the same driver on their phone three times within a week.

Can't help but wonder what would have happened if he didn't admit his guilt.

Well clearly his legal advisor suggested he plead guilty, suggesting they feared it was very likely to get a worse sentance.

 

If you cant help wonder, wonder how it would have ended if the lead rider hadnt tried to block him in.

 

Hmm, so what are we as cyclists supposed to do, just take this shit intimidatory behaviour just because someone is in a car?  I cannot turn the other cheek, I won't let anyone close pass me even, without shouting after them.  I don't care if it gets me or "Cyclists" a bad name, I am not putting up with it.  It is my road as much as theirs and I am not going to let them harass me into not riding.

 

It took him three goes to admit to it.  I hope they hit him with all the costs too, and I bet he doesn't serve the whole of his ban either.

We need traffic cops out on the streets, who know the rules of the road, and who can act when they see cases like this.  Not  more speed cams.

Avatar
jh27 [93 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
Morgoth985 wrote:

District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said: "This involved you using your motor vehicle as a weapon . . .".  Yes, indeed it did.  And in other cases brandishing a weapon at a group of people, including 12 year old children, in order to cause them "fear and anxiety", would have resulted in what sentence?

 

It does beg the question, why didn't the CPS prosecute for assault and possession of an offensive weapon?

 

https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Draft-guideline-...

 

A car is a highly dangerous weapon and the driver caused serious alarm and distress, so by my reckoning that's got to be at least 12 months.

 

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jh27 [93 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

*double post*

 

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burtthebike [1037 posts] 1 week ago
2 likes
jh27 wrote:
Morgoth985 wrote:

District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said: "This involved you using your motor vehicle as a weapon . . .". 

It does beg the question, why didn't the CPS prosecute for assault and possession of an offensive weapon?

https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Draft-guideline-...

A car is a highly dangerous weapon and the driver caused serious alarm and distress, so by my reckoning that's got to be at least 12 months.

Couldn't agree more.  Why is it that using a car as a lethal weapon is somehow less serious than using anything else?  I wonder who writes the laws? 

Oh yes, now I remember: the drivers.

I wonder when the much delayed government's review of road law is going to happen?

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Zjtm231 [67 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

"he apologises to the court for what he did" .....but not the people he tried to kill.

Telling distinction.  Hope he has a fun time behind bars

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WillRod [226 posts] 1 week ago
1 like

I'm glad he got 16 weeks in the clink and a two year ban, as so many drivers appear to get even weaker punishments,

 

Sadly, it should be more, and using a vehicle as a weapon in road rage should be made a specific offence with sentences equal to using any other potentially lethal weapon.

 

One issue, is that cases such as this often end up with traffic offences, rather than normal laws and they often carry lower sentences for what are essentially very similar crimes.

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Bikebikebike [323 posts] 1 week ago
1 like
pjm60 wrote:
Samtheeagle wrote:

And if the injured party had been a Police Officer the perp would have got 2 years (See Lincs eg reported in Road CC)

 

And if the driver didn't stop. And if the driver caused serious injury. And if the driver was drunk. And if the driver then tried to conceal his drunken state. Apples and oranges.

Not really. 

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hawkinspeter [905 posts] 1 week ago
1 like
muhasib wrote:

In the source article the defence solicitor said his client was disabled and immediate custody would have an impact on his condition. So we need to feel sympathy for the perpetrator as the victim instead?

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

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madcarew [434 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
Daveyraveygravey wrote:
STATO wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

Can't help but wonder what would have happened if he didn't admit his guilt.

Well clearly his legal advisor suggested he plead guilty, suggesting they feared it was very likely to get a worse sentance.

 

If you cant help wonder, wonder how it would have ended if the lead rider hadnt tried to block him in.

 

Hmm, so what are we as cyclists supposed to do, just take this shit intimidatory behaviour just because someone is in a car?  I cannot turn the other cheek, I won't let anyone close pass me even, without shouting after them.  I don't care if it gets me or "Cyclists" a bad name, I am not putting up with it.  It is my road as much as theirs and I am not going to let them harass me into not riding.

 

It took him three goes to admit to it.  I hope they hit him with all the costs too, and I bet he doesn't serve the whole of his ban either.

We need traffic cops out on the streets, who know the rules of the road, and who can act when they see cases like this.  Not  more speed cams.

But surely speed cams are enforcing the rules of the road, indiscriminately?

Avatar
ChrisB200SX [496 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
madcarew wrote:
Daveyraveygravey wrote:
STATO wrote:
Grahamd wrote:

Can't help but wonder what would have happened if he didn't admit his guilt.

Well clearly his legal advisor suggested he plead guilty, suggesting they feared it was very likely to get a worse sentance.

 

If you cant help wonder, wonder how it would have ended if the lead rider hadnt tried to block him in.

 

Hmm, so what are we as cyclists supposed to do, just take this shit intimidatory behaviour just because someone is in a car?  I cannot turn the other cheek, I won't let anyone close pass me even, without shouting after them.  I don't care if it gets me or "Cyclists" a bad name, I am not putting up with it.  It is my road as much as theirs and I am not going to let them harass me into not riding.

 

It took him three goes to admit to it.  I hope they hit him with all the costs too, and I bet he doesn't serve the whole of his ban either.

We need traffic cops out on the streets, who know the rules of the road, and who can act when they see cases like this.  Not  more speed cams.

But surely speed cams are enforcing the rules of the road, indiscriminately?

Nope, they discriminate because they only catch people at certain sites.