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US citizen singled out because he "looked foreign," explains accused...

A Cambridgeshire man has been found guilty of causing racially or religiously aggravated fear or provocation of violence following a road rage incident involving four American cyclists, two of them serving soldiers in the US Army. Despite admitting punching his victim repeatedly, Robert Steele, aged 47, was found not guilty of assault and possession of an offensive weapon.

The incident took place on 6 March on the B1040 at Papworth Everard when self-employed bricklayer Steele took issue with the quartet – Paul Shiefer, Brianna Huot, Refugio Lopez and Lance Harris – who all take part in triathlons, after they reportedly pulled out of the road in front of him, reports Cambridge News.

One member of the group, Mr Lopez, attracted particular attention from Steele because, as the driver himself admitted, “I thought Mr Lopez looked foreign and he is foreign. The others looked as English as I am, so I only said it to him.”

Although the accused denied the charges against him, according to a report of the court proceedings on Cambridge News, in his own testimony he not only admitted hitting Mr Lopez, but also punching him repeatedly.

Penny Cannon, speaking for the prosecution, told Steele: “Mr Lopez was a small chap with only cycling gear on. He could see you were angry and would have felt terrified. If you were in his position you would have been scared too.”

Steele claimed that Mr Lopez was headbutting him with his cycle helmet and admitted: “I gave him three upper cuts to his face while his head was down. I gave him a couple of whacks and he fell to the ground.”

He then retrieved some plastic piping from his van and waved it at the cyclists, shouting racial abuse at Mr Lopez and saying “I’m going to kill you.”

In Steele’s defence, Guy Holland said that the accused was suffering pressure due to one of his children suffering from cerebral palsy. He added: “Mr Steele is of good character and has never shown violence in the last 47 years.”

Steele was fined £300 and told to pay court costs of £215 as well as a £15 victim surcharge.
 

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.

14 comments

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antonio [1162 posts] 5 years ago
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Now, if it had been Murdoch on the bike???

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handlebarcam [978 posts] 5 years ago
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Steele took issue with the quartet [...] after they reportedly pulled out of the road in front of him

In my experience, there are plenty of drivers for whom "pulling out in front of them" means exiting a side-road when they are within visual range, even if that is half a mile away, or more.

As for the outcome of the legal proceedings: unbelievable, as usual.

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Chuck [588 posts] 5 years ago
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Mr Steele is of good character

Obviously  29

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Dog72 [106 posts] 5 years ago
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Check out some of the enlightened views below the story on the Cambridge News site.

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dave atkinson [6301 posts] 5 years ago
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For those of you that can't be bothered to scrape that particular barrel, here are some highlights:

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shouldnt have pulled out in front of the van should he. End of. I wonder what would have happened if Mr Lopez was hit and killed? would we be looking at death by dangerous driving as it seems the courts are always on the cyclist side.

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Paul Shiefer, Brianna Huot, Refugio Lopez and Lance Harris. Typical British names.

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dreamlx10 [189 posts] 5 years ago
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I can't believe that four of them, two of them serving soldiers, couldn't take care of him on their own !

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kace19 [23 posts] 5 years ago
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How on earth can you state in court that you have punched someone multiple times, knocking them to the floor, and NOT have committed assault?! If I was looking for a definition of assault, I'd start with something like this.

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Stumps [3469 posts] 5 years ago
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dreamlx10 wrote:

I can't believe that four of them, two of them serving soldiers, couldn't take care of him on their own !

Just because they are soldiers does not mean they can take out a bloke hell bent on violence with their bare hands !

Perhaps you should think before making such quotes ?

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TiNuts [98 posts] 5 years ago
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Yes, it is very tempting to wonder that but, as usual, the press won't be telling the whole story so any speculation as to what actually happened remains mere conjecture.

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thereverent [443 posts] 5 years ago
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Terrible decision by the court. How his claim of self defence stod up when he had exited the vehicle to confront the group I don't know.  14

As two of the cyclists were US Army, I hope their mates back at base don't take the law into their own hands.

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Simon_MacMichael [2492 posts] 5 years ago
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dreamlx10 wrote:

I can't believe that four of them, two of them serving soldiers, couldn't take care of him on their own !

It may well be that it was precisely because two WERE soldiers that they didn't push home a four on one advantage.

Get in a fight with civilians and irrespective of whether or nor you were in the right, you're possibly looking at charges being brought under army disciplinary procedures and at the very minimum you'll have the regimental sergeant major (or US equivalent) put you through a good few laps of the drill square, probably while carrying your bike above your head.

Once saw a couple of Black Watch get back to barracks in Edinburgh very early in the morning, they'd obviously been in a fight. Four hours later, they were still running round the barracks carrying big heavy brass shell casings.

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chris75018 [99 posts] 5 years ago
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Sounds like a nice bloke. Using his kid's illness as an excuse is a particularly nice touch...

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
dreamlx10 wrote:

I can't believe that four of them, two of them serving soldiers, couldn't take care of him on their own !

Get in a fight with civilians and irrespective of whether or nor you were in the right, you're possibly looking at charges being brought under army disciplinary procedures and at the very minimum you'll have the regimental sergeant major (or US equivalent) put you through a good few laps of the drill square, probably while carrying your bike above your head

With him sitting on the bike i would imagine.

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in his own testimony he not only admitted hitting Mr Lopez, but also punching him repeatedly. Steele was fined £300 and told to pay court costs of £215 as well as a £15 victim surcharge.

It's quite laughable isn't it? Read the piece again and omit they were on bicycles. I wonder what the charges would have been based on an assault which was racially motivated against serving servicemen. I can see The Daily Mail headline now

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stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 5 years ago
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He then retrieved some plastic piping from his van and waved it at the cyclists, shouting racial abuse at Mr Lopez and saying “I’m going to kill you.”

It gets better. Is it me or has the world gone mad