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Court hears how rider was punched repeatedly after asking why drive had forced him onto pavement

A Manchester bus driver who formerly served as a Metropolitan Police officer has been convicted of assaulting a 65-year-old cyclist after repeatedly punching him when the bike rider complained about having been cut up.

The victim, Harry Clare, grandfather of six, told Manchester Magistrates’ Court that he had been forced onto the pavement in the city’s Portland Street by a double decker bus driven by 38-year-old Neil Whittaker-Axon, then working for the bus firm, Finglands.

Whittaker-Axon, who had been working as a bus driver for 18 months had claimed that he acted in self-defence, but three eyewitnesses, including another bus driver from his company, disputed his version of events, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Mr Clare had tried to get the driver’s attention after the initial incident but received a v-sign in reply. He then followed the vehicle to Piccadilly Bus Station.

"I thought the guy might have apologised to me and I followed him there to say what on earth is the problem," he explained.

"His body language said he wasn’t going to shake my hand. I heard the window slam. He reached out and grabbed me by the back of the collar of my clothing. He yanked me to the side of the bus. I felt my head banging against something and something banging against my helmet."

Witness Davina Beresford told magistrates that Whittaker-Axon had been the aggressive party, saying, “He was aiming strikes at his head.”

Fellow bus driver Frederick Marfleet stated: "I couldn't believe it. It’s not something you do is it, hitting people?"

However, Whittaker-Axon claimed to be acting in self-defence. “I was defending myself,” he insisted. “I felt he had committed an offence and I wanted him to be arrested and charged with it."

Convicting him of common assault by beating, magistrates fined Whittaker-Axon £150 and he was also ordered to pay £100 costs plus £175 compensation and a £15 victim surcharge.

He was reportedly spared a custodial sentence after magistrates were told that he had been made homeless after he lost his job with the bus company.

Colin Thompson, the Chairman of the Bench, told Whittaker-Axon: "It’s very sad. You’re not an ordinary person, you’ve been a public servant."

After the hearing, Mr Clare, a retired joiner, commented: "It was a shock to the system and it took me some time to get over it. It was the right verdict."

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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JohnS [198 posts] 4 years ago
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All that and this idiot gets a fine and costs against him?

Jesus wept. He should be locked up.

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JonSP [70 posts] 4 years ago
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JohnS wrote:

All that and this idiot gets a fine and costs against him?

Jesus wept. He should be locked up.

He lost his job and his home, apparently. Doesn't that seem like enough?

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Coleman [335 posts] 4 years ago
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JonSP wrote:
JohnS wrote:

All that and this idiot gets a fine and costs against him?

Jesus wept. He should be locked up.

He lost his job and his home, apparently. Doesn't that seem like enough?

For a violent assault on an OAP? No, it's not enough. Homeless? He could enjoy some time inside with the boys. Especially when they find out he's ex plod. He might be a little saddle sore after a few weeks.

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JohnS [198 posts] 4 years ago
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JonSP wrote:
JohnS wrote:

All that and this idiot gets a fine and costs against him?

Jesus wept. He should be locked up.

He lost his job and his home, apparently. Doesn't that seem like enough?

He lost his job and his home because of his violent, irresponsible behaviour while in a position of public trust, bringing his employer into disrepute, and in charge of a few tonnes of metal containing anything up to 80 people. I certainly woudn't want to be in a bus driven by him,. let alone on a bike near it.

For beating up a pensioner who wanted to know why he'd run him off the road, he only gets a fine and costs.

What did he expect? A medal?

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cat1commuter [1421 posts] 4 years ago
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Hmm, you have to wonder why he was an ex Metropolitan Police Officer in the first place!

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JohnS [198 posts] 4 years ago
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cat1commuter wrote:

Hmm, you have to wonder why he was an ex Metropolitan Police Officer in the first place!

I wonder why he was a Metropolitan Police Officer.

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scrapper [71 posts] 4 years ago
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"You’re not an ordinary person, you’ve been a public servant."
what the hell is that statement supposed to suggest? that those working in public services are better people than the public that they are working for???

now that makes me really angry

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bobinski [238 posts] 4 years ago
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He would have been sentenced in accordance with the sentencing guidelines fron the sentencing guidance council.See...

http://sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/docs/Assault_definitive_guidel...

we dont know enough about the injuries but given he lost his job as a result of his own appalling actions and is now homeless a fine and compensation may have been the only realistic sentence, subject to his ability to pay. What good would custody do? i would rather he received a community penalty with a condition of say 200hrs unpaid work in the community.

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JohnS [198 posts] 4 years ago
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scrapper wrote:

"You’re not an ordinary person, you’ve been a public servant."
what the hell is that statement supposed to suggest? that those working in public services are better people than the public that they are working for???

now that makes me really angry

It means that those working for the public have a duty to the public, and not just to their immediate employer. Nothing to do with being a good person (which, to judge from this story, he isn't).

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moonbucket [64 posts] 4 years ago
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I love the comment from the violent ex-cop bully - I wanted him charged with an offence. Yeah, of course, because that's exactly what his TRAINING as a Policeman would have taught him - to apprehend an OAP you need to repeatedly punch them in the head!

It's fucking open day/week/year on us cyclists. To think we had the roads first too.

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OldRidgeback [2632 posts] 4 years ago
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I very much doubt the Metropolitan Police would reveal why the man is no longer on the force. We will have to draw our own conclusions on that, based on his treatment of a pensioner.

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slow-cyclo [72 posts] 4 years ago
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moonbucket wrote:

To think we had the roads first too.

Being a country boy at heart Im pretty sure pedestrians and then horse (and cart) got there first but I agree on the open season  2

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OldRidgeback [2632 posts] 4 years ago
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It's worth bearing in mind that the tractor predates the bicycle considerably.

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Paul M [360 posts] 4 years ago
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Actually, his behaviour makes me wonder whether the Metplod might in fact have been sorry to lose him. He could have been handy for controlling those pesky demonstrators at a G20 or student fees demo.

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Simon E [2778 posts] 4 years ago
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I am sadly not terribly surprised that a bus driver would behave like this (though I'm sure he wouldn't have reacted in the same way if the complaint had been made by a 6'6" rugby player).

It does lead me to wonder what kind of training he received during his time in the police force.

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Yemble [40 posts] 4 years ago
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Coleman wrote:

He could enjoy some time inside with the boys. Especially when they find out he's ex plod. RAPE JOKE LOL.

This is out of line.. where's the report button?

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zanf [859 posts] 4 years ago
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JonSP wrote:
JohnS wrote:

All that and this idiot gets a fine and costs against him?

Jesus wept. He should be locked up.

He lost his job and his home, apparently. Doesn't that seem like enough?

Those are called consequences. Cause and effect.

If he had been a drunk driver and had caused an accident, would you be asking the same question then?

TBF, I'm sick of reading of cases where people who have driving jobs are shown an incredible amount of leniency because 'driving is their livelihood'.

If thats the case then dont drive like an idiot, endangering others. If you cant do that then you have no place holding a license.

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sloop [22 posts] 4 years ago
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Homeless my a**e. The Beak believes that? And no, it isn't enough. See what you think if someone nearly half your age grabs hold of you and punches you repeatedly in the head...

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Angelfishsolo [134 posts] 4 years ago
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If he is homeless then prison would put a roof over his head ffs!

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Angelfishsolo [134 posts] 4 years ago
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Coleman]
[quote=JohnS

wrote:

All that and this

For a violent assault on an OAP? No, it's not enough. Homeless? He could enjoy some time inside with the boys. Especially when they find out he's ex plod. He might be a little saddle sore after a few weeks.

Love it, My vote for post of the week  4

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Cauld Lubter [135 posts] 4 years ago
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Coleman wrote:

For a violent assault on an OAP? No, it's not enough. Homeless? He could enjoy some time inside with the boys. Especially when they find out he's ex plod. He might be a little saddle sore after a few weeks.

Quite right, too.  41

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Cauld Lubter [135 posts] 4 years ago
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Yemble wrote:
Coleman wrote:

He could enjoy some time inside with the boys. Especially when they find out he's ex plod. RAPE JOKE LOL.

This is out of line.. where's the report button?

Fer gaud's sake, get a grip.

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whizzkid [73 posts] 4 years ago
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Angelfishsolo wrote:

If he is homeless then prison would put a roof over his head ffs!

I was about to say the same thing but you got there first!