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Triathlete broke collar bone after incident with policeman in 'Cycling City'...

A Bristol police dog handler who denied pushing a triathlete off his bike after he banged his van with his fist has been cleared of assault.

PC Paul Nesbit-Bell was involved in an incident with William Shackcloth after the pair came into contact on a roundabout.

Mr Shackcloth, 65, told a Bristol Crown Court jury that he was on an end-of-season cycle training session when he approached a roundabout, intending to leave it at the second exit.

According to the Bristol Evening Post, he had to take evasive action to avoid a van which pulled up to his right and seemed to be trying to use the same piece of road as he was.

After banging on the side of the van, the cyclist negotiated the roundabout but then saw the truck parked, with its door open and blocking the cycle lane.

PC Nesbit-Bell, who was off-duty, had pulled up in his van to see why the cyclist had thumped it in a “frenzied attack.” He told the jury that when he extended his left arm to the cyclist to get him to stop, Mr Shackcloth wobbled, collided with the kerb and fell into the road.

He said: "I made no physical contact with him."

PC Nesbit-Bell, aged 42, of Chipping Sodbury, denied assault occasioning actual bodily harm in September last year and a jury of six men and six women took 10 minutes to unanimously find him not guilty.

Retired aerospace engineer Mr Shackcloth, 65, who is a part-time swimming coach and took part in Olympic-distance triathlon events, said that he was pushed and lost control, breaking his collar bone.

The jury was told PC Nesbit-Bell, who used his van to run a part-time business in tree surgery and grass cutting, had an "exemplary" Army service record and had had several commendations during his time as a police officer.

He said he was aware of the cyclist and, as they joined the roundabout, the cyclist banged his nearside passenger door "five to six" times and moved his nearside mirror.

PC Nesbit-Bell said he parked up with the intention of asking the cyclist why he had banged on his vehicle.

He said: "I held up my left hand and I asked him to stop.

"Mr Shackcloth saw me standing in the road; he got up out of his saddle and increased his speed. He was moving to my left and he began to wobble.

"As he was in line with me, he touched the kerb. He scooted down the kerb and he fell off over his handlebars and fell back into the road. I had no physical contact with him. I didn't push him."

Comments on the Evening Post’s website were broadly supportive of Mr Shackcloth’s actions, with many saying they had had similar experiences of being cut up.

One, ‘Chris’ in Bristol, commented: “Most (cyclists) don't even bother to report such incidents to the police since they show little interest in taking any action, not surprisingly if there is little prospect of getting a conviction.

“I've been assaulted three times in the last two years, which I guess is not untypical. No action against the culprits of course, even when witnesses were available.

“If Bristol is to be a Cycling City then the attitudes of the police and authorities have to change.”

Others, however, warned against venting frustration at drivers by banging on their cars. ‘Opie’ in Bristol, said: “Occasionally a motorist will do something that annoys me (i.e. pull out without looking) but my main concern is not dying.”