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Motorist gave himself up after helmet cam footage of incident released by police

A driver who grabbed a cyclist by the throat during a road rage incident in Manchester has been fined £200 for common assault and driving without due care and attention. Michael Stewart, aged 47, had given himself up to police after helmet cam footage provided as evidence by the cyclist had been released to the media.

Stewart, a television sound recordist from Congleton, had pleaded guilty to those charges but had denied a more serious charge of dangerous driving and was found not guilty of that offence at Manchester magistrates’ court, reports the Manchester Evening News.

District judge Jonathan Taaffe described the incident, which happened during the evening rush hour on January 26 this year on St John’s Road in Lonsight, as “reprehensible and serious.”

The cyclist, university researcher Neil Chatterjee, told the court of how he banged on the window of Stewart’s BMW, which was overtaking him in an illegal manoeuvre.

“I was pretty scared,” he revealed. “I thought: 'The only way it's going to end is badly.' I honestly thought I was going to get knocked off.”

Video footage from Mr Chatterjee’s helmet cam was played to the court, showing Stewart get out of his car, walk round it and put his hands up towards the cyclist’s neck.

“He ran around and he looked really angry,” added Mr Chatterjee. “I thought: 'I'm going to get hit here.' “He didn't hit me, he grabbed hold of me by the throat.”

Stewart said he had got a grip on Mr Chatterjee’s clothing, but had not taken hold of his throat, but the judge disagreed.

Besides the £200 fine, he was also told to pay £200 costs and had five penalty points added to his driving licence, plus a six-week community order and a four-week curfew.

Judge Taaffe accepted that Stewart had shown “clear remorse” but added: “You caused no injuries, but it was still a reprehensible attack, a serious attack, and an act of road rage.

“It's unacceptable to behave as you behaved towards other road users. All road users deserve respect.”

That echoed comments made by Mr Chatterjee shortly after January’s attack, when he said: "I just want road users to respect each other.

road.cc/content/news/31967-manchester-road-rage-victims-one-man-respect-campaign

“I don’t think it should be war between motorists and cyclists. As far as I’m concerned there are good road users and bad road users. People should be thinking about the consequences of their actions."
 

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.

23 comments

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amazon22 [248 posts] 5 years ago
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What is it with BMW drivers? Almost without exception they drive in an arrogant manner - too fast, too close etc (with Audi drivers a close second). I empathise with Neil, that must have been a very unpleasant experience, good on him for pursuing it, and getting a reasonable result.

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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It's true, all BMW driver are obnoxious c*nts, i think most of my cycling close shaves have been with BMW drivers. Glad the pr*ck was fined mind. I'm sure his employer would like to see one of their staff behave like a tw@t

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iggy pete [7 posts] 5 years ago
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What a stupid load of twaddle - you cannot possibly generalise- i am a BMW driver as i am sure are any number of other cyclists - a little more balance please

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No1 [20 posts] 5 years ago
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I commute in London during the week daily and the worst offenders re lack of respect are Taxi drivers followed in close 2nd by surprisingly, motorcyclists! (think they should now better eh!) .... I think I need to invest in one of those helmet cam's!

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amazon22 [248 posts] 5 years ago
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iggy pete wrote:

What a stupid load of twaddle

A little more balance please. I did say 'almost', so that doesn't include you, or my brother -in-law, who is the most sedate BMW driver ever. I've just come back from a ride, where I was run off the road by a BMW driver coming down a narrow lane at 50mph+ who, on seeing me coming towards him, veered over, forcing me onto the verge. Just a bit of fun for him.

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headfirst [82 posts] 5 years ago
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My own experience backs up the crap BMW driver theory. More close shaves with them than the rest combined. I now try to preempt their actions when I'm the vicinity of one, either on my bike or in my car.

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marriott [6 posts] 5 years ago
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I have to admit that I've had close shaves and they were with BMW drivers,that's not to say they are always BMW drivers but just that was a fact with my near misses.

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stevebull-01 [63 posts] 5 years ago
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No1 wrote:

I commute in London during the week daily and the worst offenders re lack of respect are Taxi drivers followed in close 2nd by surprisingly, motorcyclists! (think they should now better eh!) .... I think I need to invest in one of those helmet cam's!

I agree completely, most of my near misses have been due to taxi drivers pulling out at junctions without looking properly. Can't say i've ever had an issue with a BMW driver though.

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james-o [234 posts] 5 years ago
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"all BMW driver are obnoxious c*nts"

that's about as rational as "you all jump red lights and shouldnt be on the road"..

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farrell [1950 posts] 5 years ago
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I'm guessing here that Mr Chatterjee was cycling down St John's Road, as I frequently do, in order to find a slightly safer route to avoid the Wacky Racesesque driving madness of the A6 by Longsight Market and the lunatic decisions road users make around there. That whole stretch round there is nuts and seems to bring out the very worst in people.

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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iggy pete wrote:

What a stupid load of twaddle - you cannot possibly generalise- i am a BMW driver as i am sure are any number of other cyclists - a little more balance please

Then you *are* the exception

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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marriott wrote:

I have to admit that I've had close shaves and they were with BMW drivers,that's not to say they are always BMW drivers but just that was a fact with my near misses.

Exactly, if you are a BMW driver and have never had an incident with a cyclist then you are counted out of this discussion. Whilst driving i have also encountered this unusual phenomenon.

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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james-o wrote:

"all BMW driver are obnoxious c*nts"

that's about as rational as "you all jump red lights and shouldnt be on the road"..

Rational it isn't, true it is. In my experience this is almost 100% true and as i can't talk for other people on here, that's all i have to go on.

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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stevebull-01 wrote:
No1 wrote:

I commute in London during the week daily and the worst offenders re lack of respect are Taxi drivers followed in close 2nd by surprisingly, motorcyclists! (think they should now better eh!) .... I think I need to invest in one of those helmet cam's!

I agree completely, most of my near misses have been due to taxi drivers pulling out at junctions without looking properly. Can't say i've ever had an issue with a BMW driver though.

Having just moved out of London to Gloucestershire i can vouch for this. Not that i would dare enter central London on a bike anyway, but watching road users from inside a bus yo get to see trends certainly. Taxi driver are always on the look out for fares, they do take unusual risks in order to get these fares. A taxi driver drove into the side of me as he was turning round in the middle of the street, i was in traffic. He got out and started shouting and threatening me. People get angry because the minute they do something stupid they know it, and nothing will ever stop that from happening

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handlebarcam [614 posts] 5 years ago
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I think the beemer-to-c-word-ratio depends on your location. Having recently cycled in Germany, where BMWs make up roughly a third of all traffic, I can testify to their general standards of driving being much, much higher than the average BMW driver in the UK (it helps that the roads are typically wider and better maintained.) Even within this country, there are significant variations. If you live in the South East, or the Midlands, especially near motorway hubs where there are lots of head offices, out of which salesmen and consultants are based, get ready to encounter lots of bad BMW drivers. That is because many reps believe the entire road network was built exclusively to allow them to flog their IT solutions, or consult on the management of other management consultants. At an even more local level, I once lived in a town where the only "premium" car dealership was a BMW one, and that dealership was run by a bunch of overgrown man-childs (I know this because my offices overlooked the back of the dealership, and I saw what they got up to.) Consequently, all the bad drivers, who thought they were great drivers and hence "deserved" a premium car, naturally bought BMWs. Where I live now, the nearest dealership set up to serve swaggering twits sells Audis, so Audis are the weapon of choice around here.

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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amazon22 wrote:
iggy pete wrote:

What a stupid load of twaddle

A little more balance please. I did say 'almost', so that doesn't include you, or my brother -in-law, who is the most sedate BMW driver ever. I've just come back from a ride, where I was run off the road by a BMW driver coming down a narrow lane at 50mph+ who, on seeing me coming towards him, veered over, forcing me onto the verge. Just a bit of fun for him.

Balance is fine if it's based on fact.

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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handlebarcam wrote:

I think the beemer-to-c-word-ratio depends on your location. Having recently cycled in Germany, where BMWs make up roughly a third of all traffic, I can testify to their general standards of driving being much, much higher than the average BMW driver in the UK (it helps that the roads are typically wider and better maintained.) Even within this country, there are significant variations. If you live in the South East, or the Midlands, especially near motorway hubs where there are lots of head offices, out of which salesmen and consultants are based, get ready to encounter lots of bad BMW drivers. That is because many reps believe the entire road network was built exclusively to allow them to flog their IT solutions, or consult on the management of other management consultants. At an even more local level, I once lived in a town where the only "premium" car dealership was a BMW one, and that dealership was run by a bunch of overgrown man-childs (I know this because my offices overlooked the back of the dealership, and I saw what they got up to.) Consequently, all the bad drivers, who thought they were great drivers and hence "deserved" a premium car, naturally bought BMWs. Where I live now, the nearest dealership set up to serve swaggering twits sells Audis, so Audis are the weapon of choice around here.

ha !! tres funny. It's very true, generally in Europe they do drive better, unless you're in Italy or Finland where they think it's either a rally or Monza. I've had months of cycling in France and not one incident. It's based on culture, and as i see it over here we're trying to keep cycling at arms length, or at least there are things put in the way to discourage you. I live out in the country really, there's not really anything that can be classed as mass corporate areas, Gloucester probably being the nearest thing to it

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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handlebarcam wrote:

Where I live now, the nearest dealership set up to serve swaggering twits sells Audis, so Audis are the weapon of choice around here.

Did anyone see the Top gear episode where Jeremy Clarkson was testing a Jag from Cornwall to East Anglia in order to beat the sunrise? Well, he was showing the tricks of the Jag and how it had cruise control with settings. He tried them all, then jokingly drove up to almost within spitting distance of the camera car suggesting that this was "the Audio setting" This form a man you is probably the best known car lover in the country. It's fact of live, give a young man some money and a stressful job, he'll have a fast car where he'll speed around like Nigel Mansell, hopefully not killing anyone in his way. Generally in a certain wage bracket, that will be in either an Audio, a BMW or a Mercedes.

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dave atkinson [6214 posts] 5 years ago
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har har, that armando ianucci sketch made me spit out my coffee  4

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OldRidgeback [2616 posts] 5 years ago
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Not all BMW drivers are obnoxious and aggressive morons but it does seem like a disproportionately high number are. I was squeezed to one side by a driver in a BMW 330 this morning on my commute as it happens and this marque of car does seem to attract idiots.

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515 [16 posts] 5 years ago
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I'm most wary of old women driving without due care. Got nudged into the kerb (whilst cycling to work) by an old bint in an Espace who failed to appreciate I was travelling at 20mph. She was contrite enough when I explained her error, she eventually promised to take more care around vulnerable road users.

A little while ago I was classically left-hooked by a fat old toilet in a Fiesta. She overtook me by the road island before a mini-roundabout, slammed on her brakes in front of me to avoid the car on the roundabout to her right that she hadn't noticed, (fortunately, I was already braking - I'd seen him before she began her manouvre) then turned left into the Tesco petrol station.

She did have a fright when I challenged her over her driving. She would not apologise and refused to admit she had done anything wrong. I may have become irritated by her manner. The old gupper who tried to butt in (presumably thinking that a young bloke was having a go at an old girl for no good reason) having not seen the incident had the Alex Ferguson hairdryer. He got back in his car.

I'm a lot more assertive in my road positioning now.

I used to think the old folk drove slowly and carefully too.

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WolfieSmith [1318 posts] 4 years ago
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So if Audi and BMWs are disproportionally driven by impatient dangerous drivers is it the perception of the marques' or the style of the car that makes some owners agressive? I ask because the interior of Audi's with their black and chrome racestyle ( even the lowly A3) and the exterior of BMW's with their 'angryshark' style do seem to stir something primal in those more primal to begin with.

Anyone fined for road rage should be given a 2CV for year to calm down a little. Before I get 2CV annectotes - it was a casual aside...  39

As Clive James said about Clarkson "I can't agree with Clarkson. Encouraging ordinary people to drive fast cars on ordinary roads is exactly like giving school boys real guns."

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tired old fart [77 posts] 3 years ago
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when you drive your car do you behave like an arragant prick I am sure you do