17 months in jail for Bristol bus driver who 'used vehicle as weapon'

Cyclist blatantly side-swiped by overtaking bus driver

by nick_rearden   February 16, 2012  

BBC News Bristol bus as weapon

The image above shows the moment when a bus was used last year as a weapon by its driver to clatter cyclist Phillip Mead across one lane of a multi-lane street in Bristol.

The bus driver Gavin Hill, 29, from Frome in Somerset, was sentenced today at Bristol Crown Court for dangerous driving and causing grievous bodily harm. He has been jailed for 17 months.

The incident which happened on 6th April 2011 and which was recorded on CCTV is shown on the BBC News Bristol website here. In an irony that can only be described as grim took place outside the city's Magistrates Court, Hill was arrested on the spot by police attending the incident and he was also immediately sacked by his employer - Bugler Coaches.

At his trial the court was told that the attack occured following a disagreement between the two men at the James Baron roundabout, shortly afterwards Hill overtook Mr Mead and swerved his bus in to him hitting the cyclist's shoulder and hurling him across the road. Mr Mead suffered a broken leg, wrist and thumb and his bicycle was crushedunder the wheels of the bus.

As we reported in January when Hill was convicted, Mr Mead was in hospital for two weeks as a consequence of the assault and needed a further operation to rebuild his left knee.

At last month's pre-sentence hearing judge Recorder Frank Abbot said:

“You drove in a way that was patently dangerous and in my view you did it out of spite towards the cyclist with catastrophic results," said Judge Mark Horton at the conviction.

“He could have been killed and you would have been facing a much more serious offence."

27 user comments

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I remember reading about this. I think I got the idea the bus driver had edged the poor bloke off the road. The video is horrific. What an idiot.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
16th February 2012 - 18:11

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17 months really doesn't seem like enough.

posted by Actium [37 posts]
16th February 2012 - 18:11

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At least he signalled, eh? Unbelievable...

posted by Darkerside [56 posts]
16th February 2012 - 18:15

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i wonder if i can find someone in the prison he is visiting and send him a few quid to ensure his stay is uncomfortable, what an utter bellend, having been hit by a white van recently i can vouch for the pain it brings. the guy should be in for 10-15 years for attempted murder

posted by russyparkin [550 posts]
16th February 2012 - 18:23

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I feel sick having seen the video on BBC

That's attempted murder. Simple.

Bring me sunshine, and dry roads

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posted by MalcolmBinns [107 posts]
16th February 2012 - 19:00

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Yep...read it and commented previously...before seeing the video evidence. Having now seen it, this is outrageous! Definitely hope he gets to share a cell with big Bubba. 17 months for what is tantamount to attempted murder. I've seen assault cases with lesser consequence than this and the accused got 5 years...justice me hole!

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

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posted by The _Kaner [322 posts]
16th February 2012 - 19:23

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Horrible video.

With regard to the judge's comment: "He could have been killed and you would have been facing a much more serious offence."

This resonates a little with the story about the suggestion of raising the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving.

Once again we have a case which shows that the problem is not the maximum sentence for a fatal incident; it is the lack of severity with which non-fatal incidents are viewed - or at least the lack of severity of the charges which can realistically be brought.

The judge's statement is facile: it should be obvious to anyone that this assault carried a high risk of resulting in fatality. Yet it would appear that it was not possible to bring a charge to reflect that.

See also the case of Carl Baxter, who deliberately reversed his Range Rover into a cyclist and his child in a trailer. Same here: GBH, despite the obvious and significant risk of death.

I rarely gesticulate at motorists to make it clear to them that they've driven dangerously at me for precisely this reason: I know that the law is incapable of discouraging them from assaulting me with their vehicle if they wish.

Maybe someone needs to lend a legal eye to why GBH seems the most severe charge for deliberate assault with a vehicle, and whether we need a new and specific offence. MPs seem quite happy to push for a "death by dangerous cycling" law, but there's little happening to address non-fatal assaults on the road.

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posted by Bez [336 posts]
16th February 2012 - 19:23

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Appalling... should he be allowed behind the wheel of a motor vehicle again?

I think not, but I believe he will.

17 months jail, how long will he actually serve?

British justice....quality!

TDL

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posted by tourdelound [77 posts]
16th February 2012 - 20:53

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hope someone shivs him in the showers...ass!

posted by quango2008 [36 posts]
16th February 2012 - 22:16

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Another nutter getting banged up for stupidity. Hope the victim recovers.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1941 posts]
16th February 2012 - 23:05

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Only yesterday I commented to my boss that some of my cycle rides to and from work resemble a scene from the movie "Duel" but nothing compares with this. I have had vehicles swerve into me deliberately but I didn't have the benefit of video evidence.

Seeing things like this encourage me to get a video camera on the bicycle.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [275 posts]
16th February 2012 - 23:45

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17 months - for attempted murder with a 14 ton vehicle?

The cyclist will probably endure a protracted recovery period much longer than the 8.5 months this nutter will serve - and possibly ongoing symptoms considering his knee required surgery.

It's so disproportionate a sentence in the circumstances.

posted by moonbucket [55 posts]
16th February 2012 - 23:49

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Don't forget people that you can appeal to the Attorney General that the sentence was too low. If enough people complain the sentencing will have to be looked at and it will keep the story in the news as a warning to other drivers.

http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk/ULS/Pages/default.aspx

posted by gcommie [2 posts]
17th February 2012 - 1:10

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Definitely looks like attempted murder to me.

Even if there were mitigation arguments in relation to an earlier argument (I don't believe there can be any valid ones) they should be taken into account at sentencing, not charging.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were to stab or shoot someone in the street it would be attempted murder. Mitigation in sentencing may be valid if they had been dealing drugs to your kids outside the school gates. You are still guilty of attempted murder, you just deserve a lighter sentence (and a medal).

So no matter why he did it (Has he given a reason?) he should still have be charged in relation to his actions.

posted by EK Spinner [24 posts]
17th February 2012 - 9:58

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It's not just that the sentence is too low, clearly the CPS are to blame for not charging him with the right offence.
He has been charged with a driving offence - fine he was guilty of dangerous driving. However, he aslo committed GBH (probably with intent) and has not been charged with that. I do not understand why he cannot still be charged with that offence.
I think it is important to realise that two offences can bee committed simultaneously and thus one can be charged with two offences. For example it is possible to steal a handbag and knock an old lady to the ground at the same time. One wouldnt expect just to be charged with petty theft, so why has this villan only been charged with a motoring offence?

I say, charge him again! and put him away for a long time which will send a strong message to drivers who think they can get away with giving cyclists a 'little tap' with their front bumper.

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posted by andybwhite [158 posts]
17th February 2012 - 10:11

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I have sent 'this' to the Attourney General. Can I suggest we all send something similar, then maybe something will get done - maybe not in this case but in furure ones.

To the Attourney General....

As a memeber of the public I, like many others I have spoken to, am dismayed that Gavin Hill, a bus driver, was only charged with a motoring offence when he deliberately drove his bus at a cyclist, Phillip Mead, in Bristol on 6th April 2011, breaking his leg in the process.

I draw a parallel with a hypothetical situation where a robber pushes an old lady to the ground, breaking her pelvis, whilst stealing her handbag. In such a situation one would not expect the only charge to be brought would be one of 'petty theft'. Clearly any right minded person would expect a more serious assault charge to be brought. Thus, I fail to understand why the CPS have not brought a non-motoring assault charge against Mr Hill.

I would be interested to hear your views as to whether the CPS were correct in the charges thay made and also whether at this late stage whether additional charges could sill be made against Mr Hill.

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posted by andybwhite [158 posts]
17th February 2012 - 10:37

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andybwhite wrote:
However, he aslo committed GBH (probably with intent) and has not been charged with that. I do not understand why he cannot still be charged with that offence. I think it is important to realise that two offences can bee committed simultaneously and thus one can be charged with two offences.

From the article:

"The bus driver ... was sentenced ... for dangerous driving and causing grievous bodily harm"

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posted by Bez [336 posts]
17th February 2012 - 10:39

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Fear of this kind of utterly disproportionate retaliatory assault in response to an argument is why I now try and avoid confrontation with motorists. I wouldn't argue with a bloke with a gun because he might use it, and as the video vividly demonstrates, the same kind of power imbalance exists between cyclists and motorists. Justice (or in this case, a pale imitation thereof) is of limited consolation when you're having your knee rebuilt, or worse.

Please note, I am not in any way trying to imply the cyclist was partly responsible for this because he and the driver argued - there are just some unpredictable and nasty people out there who are driving around in vehicles that can be used as deadly weapons.

posted by aidanr [8 posts]
17th February 2012 - 10:46

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(Firstly I agree with most of the above comments that the sentence is derisory as the bus driver clearly swiped at the cyclist for which there is no excuse no matter what conversations they had before nor where the cyclist was on the road.)

Watching the video, then as the bus overtakes (after tailgating the cyclist too close) does the cyclist swerve out towards the bus ?, maybe trying to block the bus from the second lane ?

posted by zoxed [62 posts]
17th February 2012 - 12:34

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I have to agree zoxed, the cyclist does appear to move to his right after the bus changes lane (doesn't seem the smartest of moves) but I don't think he enters lane 2 before the nutter swerves dramatically into him. Even if the cyclist was near the gutter on the left the positioning of the bus by the end would still have hit him.

The judges comment made reference to using the bus as a weapon in his summing up. Can the judge recommend that a different charge(attempted murder) if he believes the CPS pushed the wrong charges forward.

posted by EK Spinner [24 posts]
17th February 2012 - 13:21

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This incident isn't a cyclist doing something stupid and simply ending up colliding with a vehicle directly because of those actions. It's someone responding to the cyclist's actions, even if they were antagonistic, with a violent and serious assault with an extremely powerful weapon.

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posted by Bez [336 posts]
17th February 2012 - 13:36

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I am informed (sorry I don't have the link) that in a similar Bristol incident an altercation between a motorist and a cyclist resulted in the motorist thumping the cyclist rather than driving his car at him - the driver got 14 months. So the bus driver got an extra 3 months for using a more lethal weapon than his fist?

Now imagine an altercation between a cyclist and grouse shooting land-owner which resuted in the land-owner assaulting the cyclist, not with his fist, nor with his LandRover but with both barrels of his shotgun. I really do imaging that the land-owner would have got quite a number of years for such an assault, and yet isn't an assault with a vehicle more comparable to this than an assult with a fist?

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posted by andybwhite [158 posts]
17th February 2012 - 13:47

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Thanks for posting this letter...you've made it easy for people to write a complaint letter. I've copied it, and sent it too. I've also sent it to friends who are going to write in as well. Let's see if we can get a few more people to write and have the prosecutor take another look.

Max de Winter

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posted by Max de Winter [1 posts]
17th February 2012 - 13:55

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And there was poor Mr Hill sobbing in court when he was sentenced. Pathetic.
Would he have got even that sentence if it hadn't been for the CCTV?? Hell, he wouldn't have pleaded guilty.
Now grab your ankles and say 'prison bitch.'

sloop

posted by sloop [22 posts]
20th February 2012 - 12:21

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So another magistrate lets a " Murdering Turkey " escape their due !
Will Thursday's debate in the House see that Cyclists are treated better ? Doubtful , since they are too busy introducing a law to convict cyclists that cause injury !

Italy is introducing a law , " Vehicular Homicide " , so can people remind their MP that this law is needed in the UK immediately ? If not retrospective to the 23rd feb , then there is a need to get the legislation passed quickly !

Time the small element of vehicular thugs discovered that bullying a Cyclist has consequences !

" Cities fit for Cycling " sponsored by the " Times " together with all the other campaigns to which they drew attention do not look like winning over the public BUT a few new laws could make drivers value their driving permits ?

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [372 posts]
20th February 2012 - 21:51

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Another disgusting murderous thug behind the wheel of a very deadly weapon. An all too common, horrendous violent crime once again only met with a slap on the wrist for the attempted murderer. Judge Mark Horton is a hypocrite. This is a growing problem which needs to be seriously addressed publicly. It seems that only we victimized cyclists discuss it on our sites. Too many people are willing to kill just to avoid being delayed for a few seconds. What is wrong with people? Anyone psychotic enough to swerve a vehicle into a defenseless cyclist is not fit to live in society. The driver should be put away for at least 20 years. Minimum. Execution would also be fitting.
“He could have been killed and you would have been facing a much more serious offence."
YES! HE COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED. So why the light sentence?

1Wrangler

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posted by 1wrangler [27 posts]
21st February 2012 - 1:16

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russyparkin wrote:
i wonder if i can find someone in the prison he is visiting and send him a few quid to ensure his stay is uncomfortable, what an utter bellend, having been hit by a white van recently i can vouch for the pain it brings. the guy should be in for 10-15 years for attempted murder

wonder if that pratt kept his job? anyway out in 17 months could be time for a vist to discourage anymore of his driving antics.....

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posted by andrew miners [46 posts]
21st February 2012 - 16:36

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