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Birmingham canal muggers are 'preying on cyclists' says victim

Attackers are pushing cyclists into the canal before taking their bikes

A doctor beaten up by muggers says that his attackers are targeting cyclists on Birmingham’s canal towpaths. A female cyclist was attacked in the same area earlier the same week and required hospital treatment after being pushed into the canal.

The Birmingham Mail reports that John Ainsworth was cycling along the Ackers Trust basin on September 30 when he was set upon by a group of youths who tried to push him into the canal to steal his bike.

“The lads who attacked me had a particular technique. It involves two youths, one standing either side of the path where the canal is, to make you cycle between them. Then one guy runs from the side and pushes you hard into the canal. Another guy then tries to run off with the bike. Others hide close by.

“I managed to cycle on but there is a barrier along the canal, where I had to get off my bike. They caught up with me and started hitting me in the face, demanding money and the bike. I just held on to the bike and was punched maybe five or six times in the face. It broke my nose.”

Ainsworth says he doesn’t know why the attack stopped and wonders whether they saw another cyclist coming. “I’ve been cycling on that route for about 20 years with few problems, but there have been the same group of lads hanging about for a while now.”

Two other cyclists arrived shortly afterwards. One was Peter Quinn, who had contacted police in the summer about intimidation from gangs along the canal. An email reply from one officer read: “It is difficult to direct what limited staff we have to pay specific attention to the canal network.”

Quinn said: “I have been cycling there for two years and don’t want to say you take your life in your hands every day, but there is a persistent group of delinquents attacking cyclists. I realise police cannot be there all the time but an increased presence might well make a difference.”

Detective Inspector Jon Ashman, from Birmingham Police, said of the attacks on Ainsworth and the female cyclist:

“These were really nasty attacks and we are following several lines of enquiry as part of the criminal investigation. We have been working closely with the victims since this was first reported to ensure they are kept updated as our case progresses.

“This kind of behaviour is dangerous and will not be tolerated; we are working around the clock to bring those responsible to justice. Local officers have also stepped up patrols in the area at the relevant times to ensure that cyclists can continue to use the towpath safely.

“In the longer term we will be considering other powers, such as a dispersal order, to reduce offending and anti-social behaviour in the area. We would ask anyone with information about these offences to come forward and contact us. Similarly if you have been a victim, please call as soon as possible.”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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