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Case only went to court after two complaints over lack of action despite video evidence caught on helmet camera

Motorist, Scott Lomas, has been convicted of a public order offence after the persistence of the cycling lawyer he threatened finally paid off. You may remember our coverage of the frustrations encountered by Martin Porter, the Queen’s Counsel who blogs as The Cycling Silk, in persuading the Metropolitan Police to take action against a driver who had threatened him in November 2010 as he commuted to work by bike, despite the incident being captured on the cyclist’s helmet cam.

Lomas was fined £250 and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge as well as costs of £300 after pleading guilty to the offence of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.

It transpired that he was also in breach of a suspended sentence handed down in April 2010 for malicious wounding, although the court today decided that it would not refer that issue back to the Crown Court.

The defendant, aged 24 at the time of the incident, had initially pleaded not guilty, with his lawyer arguing that since the police officer investigating the case had indicated that no further action would be taken, the subsequent decision to prosecute had been an abuse of process. When the judge rejected that argument, Lomas changed his plea to guilty.

That Lomas was eventually brought to justice was due to Mr Porter’s determination to get the authorities to take action in connection with the incident that took place on 4 November 2010 on the A315 near Hounslow as he rode to work.

Lomas, apparently frustrated at being unable to pass the cyclist as the road narrowed due to a traffic island, had beeped his horn and shouted abuse, continuing to do so as the pair passed each other several times over the next few minutes, and eventually threatening to kill him. The episode was filmed by the cyclist’s helmet camera.

Despite that video evidence, Mr Porter, who reported the incident the same day, found that police were reluctant to investigate and that after what he describes as “casual contact” with the CPS, the officer handling the case had decided that no further action would be taken.

A complaint to the Director of Public Prosecution’s resulted in the CPS telling the police to investigate the report and submit evidence, but again the recommendation of the same investigating officer was that no further action be taken. It was only when a further complaint was made that a senior police officer decided that the case should indeed be referred to the CPS, who decided to prosecute, resulting in today’s conviction.

Commenting on the case, Martin, who besides being a Queen’s Counsel is also a keen racing cyclist with Thames Velo, said: “I am pleased that justice has now been done and that the Crown Prosecution Service had the moral fibre to reverse the Metropolitan Police’s attempts to drop this case notwithstanding the strength of the evidence. 

“It is sadly too much to hope that all mindless aggression and violence directed at cyclists will instantly cease but at least this conviction may help to discourage similar incidences of mindless ‘roadrage’ against vulnerable road users.

“I am very grateful to prosecuting counsel (a cyclist it transpires!) who dealt with the case efficiently and courteously.”

He added: “I am grateful too for the moral support I have received from the CTC, Roadpeace, The Road Danger Reduction Forum and the vast majority of cyclists who have contacted me.”
 

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.

37 comments

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tomascjenkins [43 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done! What about those who are not lawyers though, are the CTC campaigning for the police to take this more seriously. Mind you reported an incident of bottle thrown from works van with registration after club had apparently 'held it up' on an early morning Sunday run near Cheddar. I got a call a few days later from the police saying the perpetrator had had a visit from them.

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Mart0023 [23 posts] 4 years ago
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Good justice at last.

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 4 years ago
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It's good that the person responsible has had action taken against him. It is interesting but not surprising to note that he has committed a prior offence. Sadly, it seems likely that he will probably offend while at the wheel again.

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londonplayer [620 posts] 4 years ago
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Interesting that he has a previous criminal conviction (and not just a minor one such as dropping litter). I thought that insurance companies were extremely reluctant to insure people who have criminal records and often turn them down. So I wonder how he managed to get car insurance at 24 years old as well?

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cat1commuter [1418 posts] 4 years ago
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londonplayer wrote:

I thought that insurance companies were extremely reluctant to insure people who have criminal records and often turn them down. So I wonder how he managed to get car insurance at 24 years old as well?

Assuming that he was insured...

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downfader [203 posts] 4 years ago
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This whole situation should have been dealt with on the day but the reluctance of the officers involved means a little trust in the police gets eroded.  39

I'm glad a result has finally happened.

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lokikontroll [51 posts] 4 years ago
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Very well done. You sir are a hero.

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JohnS [198 posts] 4 years ago
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downfader wrote:

This whole situation should have been dealt with on the day but the reluctance of the officers involved means a little trust in the police gets eroded.  39

What trust?

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WolfieSmith [1247 posts] 4 years ago
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Lovely. A few more convictions like this would be good. The driver and his mate that drove me and a club mate off the road either side of his 4x4 instead of waiting at the passing place would be top of my list.

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 4 years ago
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cat1commuter wrote:
londonplayer wrote:

I thought that insurance companies were extremely reluctant to insure people who have criminal records and often turn them down. So I wonder how he managed to get car insurance at 24 years old as well?

Assuming that he was insured...

If he hadn't been insured he would have been convicted with that.

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cyclinglawyer [9 posts] 4 years ago
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Lomas was not the owner or the registered keeper of the vehicle. It would be nice to think that the police constable would have checked insurance details but...

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Tour Le Tour [87 posts] 4 years ago
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Very good to see a positive result. I don't think this is the way to make most of the population change their behaviour (that would be through reasoning and sharing of perspectives) but if the threat of prosecution is what we need for the really stupid ones then good to see that it is there, even if you need solid evidence and a lot of persistence. Great effort in getting the death threat repeated for the camera and microphone.

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paulfg42 [382 posts] 4 years ago
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cyclinglawyer wrote:

Lomas was not the owner or the registered keeper of the vehicle. It would be nice to think that the police constable would have checked insurance details but...

Is it too much to hope that the investigating officer might be reprimanded for such an obvious dereliction of duty?

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Ush [594 posts] 4 years ago
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Excellent result. Thanks for having the persistence to stay with this. It's instructive for the rest of us.

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alotronic [437 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done @cyclinglawyer

Now, how can we consistently get at least warnings from the Police on incidents like these?!

Considering a camera, didn't really think it was worth it due toi lack of convictions but this and the incident where the guy eventually came forward for assault charge might change my mind. Slightly worried I would become a literal minded vigilante  2

A

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Myriadgreen [96 posts] 4 years ago
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Regarding the insurance, it's pitiful that the police didn't check the drivers insurance or licence.

As for actually getting insurance, insurers ask if the driver has any previous motoring convictions, but do not ask about any other types of convictions, so in this case, malicious wounding would not count against the driver getting insurance, and also won't suffer any penalties from this offence either.

I'm following the case of the chap who was hit by a bus driver, on purpose, in Bristol with interest - the driver pleaded guilty and is due to be sentenced at the end of the month - I wonder what penalty he gets and hope that Road.cc reports on this. It's a similar situation but luckily for our cycling lawyer friend, the tosser didn't act on his threat to kill him. The bus driver did and the cyclist still has plates in his arms, although is still cycling! Hurrah for persistence.

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colinth [191 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done, great result and you've done a service to all cyclists

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Simon_MacMichael [2443 posts] 4 years ago
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Myriadgreen wrote:

As for actually getting insurance, insurers ask if the driver has any previous motoring convictions, but do not ask about any other types of convictions, so in this case, malicious wounding would not count against the driver getting insurance, and also won't suffer any penalties from this offence either.

Even if it's not specifically asked, an unspent criminal conviction is a material fact that needs to be disclosed when taking out insurance cover. Failure to do so can entitle the insurer to render cover void, even if the offence has nothing to do with the type of cover being sought.

The period for a conviction to be deemed spent varies depending on the sentence imposed (Rehablitation of Offenders Act 1974).

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italiafirenze [70 posts] 4 years ago
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Congratulations to this man, I have read his blog and it's very interesting.

Also congratulations to Road.cc for continuing to report these kinds of stories both at the beginning and the end. Excellent work.

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thereverent [390 posts] 4 years ago
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Good for Martin.  41
It show you need persistence with the Police on matters like this.

As it wasn't his car, it would be interesting to know if he was insured.

On the original story on Road.cc the driver came on the comments section: http://road.cc/content/news/27275-cycling-barrister-captures-death-threa...
All his claims seem to now have been proven false by this case.

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step-hent [718 posts] 4 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
Myriadgreen wrote:

As for actually getting insurance, insurers ask if the driver has any previous motoring convictions, but do not ask about any other types of convictions, so in this case, malicious wounding would not count against the driver getting insurance, and also won't suffer any penalties from this offence either.

Even if it's not specifically asked, an unspent criminal conviction is a material fact that needs to be disclosed when taking out insurance cover. Failure to do so can entitle the insurer to render cover void, even if the offence has nothing to do with the type of cover being sought.

The period for a conviction to be deemed spent varies depending on the sentence imposed (Rehablitation of Offenders Act 1974).

Whilst there is a duty to disclose any material facts, I'm not sure that the conviction for wounding is material to a motor insurance policy. Convictions for dishonest offences might be relevant (more likely to make a fraudulent claim), for example, but an insurer would have a hard time voiding a policy for a conviction like that, especially with a consumer, where the rules are pretty strict. Doesn't mean they wouldn't try, mind you....

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Paul M [350 posts] 4 years ago
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I understand that there is ample evidence to suggest that the most egregious motoring offences - road rage, significant over-limit speeding, dangerous driving etc - have a strong statistical link to more general common criminality. Most police forces acknowledge this. Surely then the Metplod must have been able to establish immediately that Scott Lomas has a conviction for wounding and a suspended sentence which should have been reviewed in the light of this incident?

In light of their performance on the Steven Lawrence case however, I would have no confidence in their ability to join the dots here.

As to insurance, perhaps criminal convictions for violence should indeed be disclosable as material information on an insurance proposal form - dishonesty I can see as it suggests a propensity to defraud, and violence as it appears to indicate a propensity to dangerous driving behaviour.

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Simon_MacMichael [2443 posts] 4 years ago
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step-hent wrote:

Whilst there is a duty to disclose any material facts, I'm not sure that the conviction for wounding is material to a motor insurance policy.

"All ‘unspent’ criminal convictions are considered to be material facts irrespective of the type of offence they relate to. Therefore the onus is on the customer to disclose them."

Source: http://www.unlock.org.uk/userfiles/file/unlockinginsurance/UNLOCKInsuran...

The insurer has to prove nothing other than there was an unspent conviction that was not disclosed when the policy was taken out. What that conviction was for, and what type of insurance it is, is irrelevant.

Of course, it may well be that if an unspent conviction for wounding is disclosed as part of the proposal, the underwriter may deem that it's irrelevant in assessing the premium to be charged (assuming they are still prepared to offer terms - some don't).

The fact remains, it still needs to be disclosed.

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thereverent [390 posts] 4 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
Myriadgreen wrote:

As for actually getting insurance, insurers ask if the driver has any previous motoring convictions, but do not ask about any other types of convictions, so in this case, malicious wounding would not count against the driver getting insurance, and also won't suffer any penalties from this offence either.

Even if it's not specifically asked, an unspent criminal conviction is a material fact that needs to be disclosed when taking out insurance cover. Failure to do so can entitle the insurer to render cover void, even if the offence has nothing to do with the type of cover being sought.

The period for a conviction to be deemed spent varies depending on the sentence imposed (Rehablitation of Offenders Act 1974).

If Lomas was in breach of a suspended sentence, then the conviction definity wasn't spent.
Most insurance policies I have taken out recently ask if you have any unspent convictions.
I just think the Police haven't bothered to look further.

The court not not refering that breach of suspended sentence back to the Crown Court is wrong. Whats the point of a suspended sentence if another conviction means nothing?

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OldRidgeback [2554 posts] 4 years ago
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Step-hent - many insurance companies now ask policy holders if they have ANY criminal convictions. This is because convicted criminals have higher incidences of accidents. Studies suggest there is a direct correlation between the risk taking behaviour of criminal activity and poor judgemment while driving.

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Argy [138 posts] 4 years ago
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Great to see justice done!  4 ... Thank you Martin for persisting and paving the path for all of us! Thanks road.cc for keeping us updated!

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Decster [246 posts] 4 years ago
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Moral of the story.

Always wear a helmet cam and get a cycling lawyer.  3

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uksportives [25 posts] 4 years ago
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I just hope that Publicity and Justice like this shows Drivers that Us cyclist are only Human, and in fact Most of us own a car anyway, I hope also that it well help others to see we all need to just get along......... Unfortunately we don't have lovely cycle lanes like most Parts of Holland etc..

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don_don [149 posts] 4 years ago
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Paul M wrote:

Surely then the Metplod must have been able to establish immediately that Scott Lomas has a conviction for wounding and a suspended sentence which should have been reviewed in the light of this incident?

The review of a suspended sentence (after a further conviction) is a matter for the courts and has nothing to do with the Police. If you read Martin's blog you can see that the court decided not to revoke Lomas's suspension in light of this case. You would have to read the court papers to establish why.

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Grumpyoldbiker [16 posts] 4 years ago
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Well done Martin

I usually give these idiots a piece of my mind, but I admire your courage. You have as they say, more balls than most.

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