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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.