A Hampshire cyclist who remonstrated with a gang of people who poked fun at the high visibility vest he was wearing was left with a broken nose after they attacked him – with one woman hitting him in the face with a full vodka bottle.
Anthony Stokes was riding to his home in Southsea following a night out when some people starting making fun of his hi-vis clothing at around 1.10am on Friday 5 June, reports Portsmouth News.
He stopped to speak to them but says he hadn’t realised how many people there were, and was then subject to a brutal assault.
“Six people were kicking me down the street,” he said. “I just went into the foetal position, I was thinking ‘this is going to hurt’. It felt like a lifetime but it was only 20 or 30 seconds. What surprised me was just the viciousness.”
He said that the abuse he received before the attack “was very derogatory. There were six people and I didn’t realise. I got a bit of lip and my biggest mistake was stopping and defending myself – it wasn’t a fair fight.”
Two other men intervened, bringing the assault to an end – but not before the woman hit him with the bottle.
“Luckily I had a helmet on and it caught me underneath it,” recalled Mr Stokes, who also suffered cuts and extensive bruising during the attack.
“It was quite vicious. If those two guys hadn’t interjected I would have been a lot worse. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Portsmouth News says that he described three of his assailants to police as follows:
- A white woman in her early 20s with permed black hair, wearing a leather jacket and white leggings with gold trim.
- Another white woman in her early to mid-20s. She was stocky with brown hair styled in a bob. She had a red sunburnt complexion and was wearing a grey jacket.
- A white man in his mid-to-late 20s, who was 6ft tall with facial hair on his chin. He was wearing a blue baseball cap with red trim and a Nike logo. He was wearing a red rain coat.
The attack on Mr Stokes comes as police further along the South Coast, in Brighton, investigate a series of incidents in which tripwires have been set on bike paths, resulting in several cyclists being injured.
One local sustainable transport expert said he suspected that media-driven anti-cyclist sentiment may be to blame, and Jon Spencer, the chairman of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, agrees that bike riders are often singled out.
He said: “We’re portrayed as doing something strange or different and it doesn’t fit, in some people’s eyes. This sort of behaviour is what that kind of attitude leaves you with.”
He continued: “I hope it doesn’t put him [Mr Stokes] off riding his bike because obviously there are health benefits to riding a bike. He was wearing the right thing to be wearing at night.”
Hampshire Constabulary say that anyone with information regarding the assault on Mr Stokes should contact PC Samantha Hockley on 101, or the charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.