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Motorist who drove at speed towards road race 'could have killed' riders, court told

"We could have had death on the road," rider in race in Scotland tells trial...

A champion cyclist from Scotland has told a court that the driver of a Land Rover Discovery could have killed a cyclist after he drove at speed towards a group of riders taking part in a race.

Andrew Bruce of Kinross Cycling Club, who is the current Scottish national road race champion in the V40 category, told Perth Sheriff Court that there were just “inches” between the wing mirror of the Land Rover Discovery being driven by William Peebles.

The motorist, aged 57 and from Coupar, denies dangerous driving in connection with the incident, which took place near Newtyle in Angus in May last year during the Dundee Thistle Stage Race, reports STV.

But Mr Bruce told the court: "It was a very dangerous situation. There were a small number of inches between riders' elbows and the wing mirror.

"The driver made no effort to slow down. In fact, he seemed to speed up and did not seem to care for the cyclists going in the opposite direction.

"I would estimate it was two and a half tonnes of vehicle against a bunch of cyclists going the other way."

"There was no margin for error. It doesn't bear thinking about what could have happened,” he continued.

"I was astounded he was not only wasn't slowing down but my impression was that he was speeding up.

"I was amazed the rider next to me did not get clipped. The vehicle passed at high speed - sufficiently close to give me cause for concern. We could have had death on the road."

Other riders taking part described how the defendant had gesticulated angrily as he passed the cyclists.

One of the participants in the race who gave evidence at the trial, Christopher Williamson, was an off-duty police officer who had been in the main group of 35 riders when Peebles’ vehicle approached, the driver flashing his lights and using his horn.

"It was basically making a beeline straight for me. I thought I was going to be the first point of impact,” he said.

"At the point where I thought it was going to collide with the group I genuinely thought it was going to hit us and be a serious amount of death or life-changing injury as a result of the driving.

"I would give a conservative estimate he was doing 55 to 60mph. Because of the speed it was coming at us I had to brake sharply.

"It struck the verge spraying debris into the air. It came back towards us again. The front offside of his vehicle was no more than six inches away from me.

"Stones had been kicked up in the air which were about the size of golf balls. I was getting struck on my arms, head and face and they were pinging off my bike.

He added: "In my personal and professional opinion his driving fell well below the standard I would expect of anybody. I was 100% certain it was going to hit me."

The trial continues.

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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.

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