A van driver in London who knocked a woman off her bike shortly after she gave him a V-sign has been fined £550 at the Old Bailey. Dennis Baker, who spoke 'disparagingly' about cyclists in interview, was also ordered to pay £1,000 compensation, £1,550 in court costs and was given five points on his driving licence after being found guilty of careless driving.
Court News UK reports how the incident, which took place at London’s notorious Bank Junction, was captured on Baker’s own onboard CCTV.
Alison Kempster had been riding to work with her husband on the morning of August 6 2015 with the roads busier than normal due to a strike by London Underground staff. At a red traffic light on Cornhill, the couple moved beyond the advanced stop line into the box reserved for cyclists, ahead of Baker’s delivery van.
CCTV footage from inside the cab recorded Baker saying, “Oh God” and, after the lights changed and Kempster signalled right to go onto Poultry, “Come on get out of the bloody way,” beeping his horn at the cyclists.
Kempster said she regarded it as an angry beep and flicked him the V-sign in response. Baker then pulled up alongside her and bumped into her causing her to fall into the road.
"I suddenly realised, 'Oh God he is doing this on purpose,” said Kempster, describing the collision. “He is actually running into me'."
She said she leant against the van to prevent being pushed into oncoming vehicles. “I knew I was going to go down. Fortunately I was far back enough I didn't go under the wheels.”
Kempster sustained bruises as well as scratches on her arms, ribs and legs and said the incident had left her psychologically scarred.
Prosecutor Martin Hooper said Baker was 'rather irritated by this cyclist in particular but also cyclists generally.
“Having been hooted by him, she stuck two fingers up to him which annoyed him to drive closer and closer to her causing her to fall off her bike. There was no need to do that, he didn't have to veer out of the way of anything, there was plenty of room to the left and this was a completely unnecessary accident.”
Baker only stopped when a motorcyclist pulled up alongside him to tell him the cyclist had fallen from her bike. "Really, did I?” he said. “Did she not run into me?" He claimed that while he heard a bang, he assumed he had driven over a manhole cover.
Baker was found guilty by the jury of careless driving, but cleared of the more serious charge of dangerous driving after a three day trial. He denied a separate offence of failing to stop which has been sent back to the magistrates’ court to be dealt with.