Former detective who repeatedly punched cyclist in road rage attack escapes jail on appeal

Court hears that incident in March left victim too fearful to cycle on the road

by Simon_MacMichael   August 31, 2012  

Gavel

A retired police detective inspector who repeatedly punched a cyclist in a road rage incident has escaped jail after appealing his conviction for common assault by magistrates. The victim, meanwhile, has said that the incident last March has left him too afraid to cycle on the road.

David Beckett, aged 63, who spent three decades serving with South Yorkshire Police, spent six days in jail after being found guilty at Sheffield Magistrates' Court and was released on bail after appealing his conviction, reports the Yorkshire Post.

That conviction was upheld at Sheffield Crown Court, but while Judge Peter Kelson said that a custodial sentence would have been “entirely appropriate,” the period that Beckett had already spent in prison “must have had a very profound effect upon a man of good character.”

Instead, he was ordered to undertake 180 hours of unpaid community work and told to pay prosecution costs of £1,035. The judge also imposed a restraining order on him not to contact the victim, 60-year-old Frank Cunliffe, or any other witnesses to the incident.

The court heard how prior to the incident, Beckett had been tailgaiting other cars then cut up Mr Cunliffe, who was riding a new bike that had cost him £2,500.

The cyclist gestured at Beckett, who stopped his vehicle and got out and confronted Mr Cunliffe, who had also stopped, striking him a number of times on his head, shoulders and torso.

The judge said that it was “clearly an act of road rage” and that he ad the two magistrates sitting at the appeal hearing considered the incident “a very serious crime.”

He went on: “You took that corner so sharply you inconvenienced him badly, it was a dangerous manoeuvre. That was the reason for what happened next.”

The “good character” to which the judge referred was at odds with some of the comments he made when sentencing Beckett, whom he said had failed to display a “shred of remorse,” adding that it was obvious he had difficulty controlling his anger.

“The only person who doesn’t see it is you,” he maintained. “You think the whole world is against you.”

Reports stated that Beckett possessed an “aggressive and provocative” character and that he had problems not being the person in control of a situation.

“It is that sort of disquiet we have seen from start to finish at various points in these proceedings,” the judge added.

Earlier, prosecutor Michael Jowett had told the court that Mr Cunliffe had been admitted to hospital following the incident and started suffering headaches once he had returned home.

A dentist discovered two months later that his jaw had been displaced during the incident, causing his teeth to be misaligned.

In a victim statement read out at the hearing, Mr Cunliffe said he now confined his bike riding to a machine at home, adding, “I no longer get any enjoyment from cycling.”

Beckett continues to protest his innocence, stating after the hearing: “There has been a miscarriage of justice and I will be pursuing it through the European Court.”

21 user comments

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Beckett continues to protest his innocence, stating after the hearing: “There has been a miscarriage of justice and I will be pursuing it through the European Court.”

Yep, I'm sure Mr. Cunliffe just made it up... Liar

posted by jackh [105 posts]
31st August 2012 - 14:28

4 Likes

Doesn't really do much to instil faith in the criminal justice system.

Am i suprised though? Not really.

Weasel is as weasel does

posted by axisofweasel [23 posts]
31st August 2012 - 14:53

2 Likes

So he is a retired cop - so what difference does that make ????

He should not have the right to appeal a sentence in my opinion and that goes for everyone.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
31st August 2012 - 15:09

5 Likes

I fail to see how the latter half of the article could possibly be describing someone of good character. I do hope there is another side to this story, just because that might make the judges decision understandable.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3424 posts]
31st August 2012 - 15:10

2 Likes

I would love to hear the basis for his appeal to the european court; article 10 the right to self expression perhaps? I suspect that taking his case to europe could in itself breach the judges' article 2 right to life; he/she could die laughing at him and his optimism!

posted by SideBurn [857 posts]
31st August 2012 - 15:13

4 Likes

at least he actually spent time in jail, many incidents with cyclists (including killing them) involves a small fine and a bit of a ban - if they're unlucky.

posted by kitkat [221 posts]
31st August 2012 - 16:04

2 Likes

I wonder what he got up to as a police officer for 30 years with a temper like that? No good I imagine.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1084 posts]
31st August 2012 - 17:49

3 Likes

Since when do people of good character need to have restraining orders imposed against them? Confused

posted by spen [92 posts]
31st August 2012 - 18:34

4 Likes

Surely the fact that he was a police officer for 30 years should mean that he is well aware of the harm caused by criminal behaviour? Shouldn't that mean that we should hold his actions to a higher standard of behaviour than others? He was, afterall, well aware of what he was doing was a criminal act.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
31st August 2012 - 20:20

1 Like

A disgraceful incident and the sentence is not appropriate by any means. The fact that the judge had to impose a restraining order speaks volumes, as does the judge's comment about the ex-detective's levels of aggression and his inability to understand that he committed a criminal act. He should have been sent to prison for some months to reflect on his behaviour and should have been fined rather more heavily, while he should also have had his driving licence taken away for a number of years. The victim would do well to take out a civil action also.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
31st August 2012 - 20:45

4 Likes

Quite how this individual lasted a 30 year career in the police rising to DI with that level of aggressive behavior is staggering!

gb901's picture

posted by gb901 [155 posts]
31st August 2012 - 23:33

3 Likes

Another case of a corrupt legal stystem looking out for it's own when will we learn?

As a police officer retired or not he should know better and be able to control his temper and repeated punches ? The only appropriate sentence for this thug was a lengthy prison sentence.
I feel sorry only for the poor cyclist victim who has been beaten up twice once by the retired officer and once by the judicial system.

KELSON ( he is not fit to be called a judge) should be ashamed of his dreadful treatment of the victim of this crime

posted by SPEED098 [7 posts]
31st August 2012 - 23:53

4 Likes

I suspect the Police Service he was working in were glad the see the back of him once his thirty years were up. "Take your pension and bugger off, there's a good chap."
I also suspect he was one of those control freaks who loved ordering minions around and since he left the polis really misses being in charge of anything, leading to feelings of frustration, anger and in extreme occasions, bursting out in rage on some hapless cyclist.
I understand, I really do, but I still think he's a dangerous arsehole.

posted by Cauld Lubter [122 posts]
1st September 2012 - 1:08

1 Like

The report of Beckett's behaviour contains many characteristics of a psychopath. It worries me that such an unbalanced individual is allowed to drive a car on the roads, putting other road users at risk.

posted by Campag_10 [153 posts]
1st September 2012 - 6:38

4 Likes

"cut up" ??? I'm guessing this is some kind of english colloquialism, in the rest of the world it sounds like he attacked him with a knife or made him very sad.

posted by imaca [46 posts]
1st September 2012 - 9:28

2 Likes

I'll happily do six days in jail if someone will let me punch that guy in the head a few times Smile

@Bull

posted by Bull [1 posts]
1st September 2012 - 9:55

3 Likes

It means (using a vehicle) to pull in front of someone and obstruct their path.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3424 posts]
1st September 2012 - 11:00

2 Likes

WE need a Cyclists Vigilante Union to sort out those who get away with blatant crimes against us.

Enjoy

posted by cisgil23 [49 posts]
1st September 2012 - 12:33

2 Likes

Everybody should have the right to appeaal, just as everybody should have the right to a fair trial with the burden of proof on the prosecution. It doesn't matter what they have done or how heinous their alleged crime.

Having said that, how could the appelate court conclude that Beckett was "of good character"? Surely it stands to reason that anyone who inflicts physical violence on another human being is by definition of BAD character? That is quite independent of the circumstances of the crime - assault is assault whether by driver on driver, cyclist on cyclist, driver on cyclist or swimmer on golfer.

posted by Paul M [325 posts]
1st September 2012 - 17:07

2 Likes

Paul M wrote:
how could the appelate court conclude that Beckett was "of good character"?

Simple - he's a policeman, one of society's "good guys". They look after their own, particularly the rotten ones. Accounts such as this one do the image of the police no good at all, though I suspect most of them don't care.

As well as the community service, he obviously needs driving lessons and should be forced to take his driving test again.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2033 posts]
2nd September 2012 - 12:08

2 Likes

londonplayer wrote:
Surely the fact that he was a police officer for 30 years should mean that he is well aware of the harm caused by criminal behaviour? Shouldn't that mean that we should hold his actions to a higher standard of behaviour than others? He was, afterall, well aware of what he was doing was a criminal act.

Again what difference does it make him being a cop ? Everyone knows its a criminal act to belt someone numerous times or are we in a world where no-one knows the law of the land, and why should he be dealt any different than another thug (cos thats all he is) just because he served 30 years as a cop ??????????????

Do retired bus drivers and taxi drivers get banned from driving for longer because their career was driving ????????

In the end he should have gone to pokey for much longer and that goes for most criminals Angry

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2826 posts]
2nd September 2012 - 13:14

4 Likes