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Driver jailed for 18 months for vicious strangling attack on cyclist who caused imaginary wing mirror damage

Daniel Watkiss tried to force cyclist to hand over £50 'for damage' to BMW before hitting him in the face...

A driver has been jailed for 18 months for a vicious attack on a cyclist who clipped the wing mirror of his BMW.

Daniel Watkiss, 30, was driving in Stoke Newington in East London last July when he attempted to overtake James Falle, who was cycling.

Mr Falle signalled for him to pass and accidentally touched his wing mirror, causing Watkiss to stop suddenly in front of the cyclist.

He demanded £50 for payment for the damage, later found by the judge not to exist, and when the Mr Falle refused, Watkiss began strangling him by his helmet straps and going through his pockets looking for money.

“The next thing I knew he had grabbed my helmet and pulled me across my bike and into the road,” the Daily Mail reported Mr Falle as saying in court.

“The strap on my helmet was strangling me; I couldn't breathe at this stage. I was trying to undo the helmet with one hand, but that was impossible while I was still being dragged forward.” 

Watkiss then hit him on the face and neck before driving off leaving Mr Falle in the road with bloody knees, cuts and bruises. 

Watkiss pleaded not guilty but was sentenced to 18 months in prison at Snaresbrook Crown Court after being found guilty of dangerous driving and assault by beating.  

His father, an eminent jazz musician who has performed with Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Keith Richards among others, broke down in tears as his sentence was read out.  

Defence agent Liam Loughlin said: “The reason he pleaded not guilty is that he was simply terrified of going to prison.”

He added: “He’s remorseful and he puts it down to a moment of madness.”

Passing a sentence of 18 months in prison and a two year driving ban Judge Patricia Lees said: “Mr Falle is an experienced cyclist and he is used to cycling in London, he was plainly not trying to aggravate the driver behind him.

“You demanded restitution for the wing mirror, it was a nonsense, it was not damaged, and even if it had been there is no way a wing mirror costs £50.

“The only explanation you could give was that you were planning on doing the work yourself and would need to buy parts.”

“It seems to me this offences are so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence is justified.”

However the judge recognised Watkiss’s plea for leniency on the grounds that he had a 10 year old son with special needs.

She added: “But because of your family matters I have reduced your sentence to shorter than you deserve.”

Just last month we reported how a Norfolk man who harboured a grudge against cyclists was jailed for 10 months for causing grievous bodily harm after shoulder-barging a rider taking part in an Audax event, the victim suffering a fractured hip.

The judge in the case said that the sentence was “a clear message” that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

Cyclist Chris Brown, aged 61 and from Aylsham, spent two days in hospital after his hip was fractured when 52-year-old Duncan Smith attacked him on 7 December last year, reports the Eastern Daily Press.

During his sentencing hearing at Norwich Crown Court, it was revealed that Smith, who had earlier pleaded guilty to the charge, nursed a grudge against cyclists after spending £460 to repair his car’s wing mirror which had been damaged by a bike rider.

On the day he attacked Mr Brown, Smith said his wing mirror had once again been struck by a cyclist, which was playing on his mind as he returned to his home in Lamas and discovered riders in the Audax event passing by.

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