11 months for motorist who left rider with "catastrophic" injuries; 19 months for road rage driver...

A driver who caused “catastrophic” injuries to a West Midlands cyclist has been jailed for 11 months for dangerous driving. The sentence contrasts with one handed down to a banned driver in Hertfordshire who was involved in a series of road rage incidents has been jailed for 19 months.

Richard Bennett, aged 42, a prison officer at Winson Green Prison in Birmingham, was riding through Smethwick on his way home from work in February last year when he was hit by a car driven by Matthew Hollingshead from Handsworth, reports Dudley News.

The impact left Mr Bennett with a broken back in three places, a dislocated hip, fractured nose, broken teeth and deep tissue damage and also shattered his right shoulder.

Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that Hollingshead, who is unemployed and pleaded guilty to the charge against him, had lost control of his Audi A3 on the damp road. The vehicle hit a kerb and a wall before hitting the victim.

Shortly beforehand, an off-duty police officer believed he had seen the vehicle racing and decided to follow it, but came across the cyclist in the gutter, having been thrown some distance from his bike.

The defendant admitted that he had failed to check his tyres – one was bald with the others having little tread – but he insisted that he was not speeding or racing prior to the collision.

Simon Worlock, defending Hollingsworth, said: “He is very concerned to see the state that Mr Bennett is in and he fully accepts responsibility. No sentence, in fact nothing beyond science and strength of character will help the use of Mr Bennett's limbs."

Sentencing him, recorder Kevin Hegarty QC said: "You drove a car at speed on a damp surface whereby you lost control because of the state of your tyres.

"You struck the kerb, a wall and wrecked Mr Bennett who suffered multiple fractures. The harm you caused was catastrophic for him."

Meanwhile, St Albans Crown Court has heard the case of a 29-year-old motorist involved in a series of road rage incidents in Chorleywood  last July in which he attacked a cyclist then drove into a scooter as well as a car being driven by a pregnant woman with her 12 year old daughter as a passenger.

The chain of events began when he clipped a bike being ridden by cyclist Lawrence Simm, making the rider swerve, reports the Watford Observer.

When Mr Simm put up his hand to show he was okay, Lee got out of his car and asked by the cyclists if he was alright replied, "I will give you 'all right'" before punching him to the ground.

When a member of the public went to help Mr Simm, Lee threatened them and said: "Do you want some as well?"

Vanslow Lee pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving without insurance and driving while disqualified, reports the Watford Observer. As well as being banned from driving for three years, he will have to take an extended retest to get his driving licence back.

Prioritise this! National cyclists’ organisation CTC is currently urging people to in England (outside London) and Wales to write to their Police & Crime Commissioners to ask them to make road safety a priority. You can find more details of the campaign, including a link to an online form to write and send a letter, here.


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.