A motorist in New South Wales who filmed himself driving on a cycle path while hurling a tirade of abuse at two cyclists, who happened to be off-duty police officers, has been fined after admitting three separate offences.
Thomas Harris, aged 27, filmed the incident on Swamp Road, Jamberoo, on Australia Day this year. The footage was subsequently posted to Instagram and Facebook and quickly went viral.
As he filmed from the shared-use path, Harris yelled: "What's the point of us spending this money if you're not going to use it, you f*ck*ng d*ckheads."
One of the cyclists replied: "Pull over, so I can have a chat."
Harris shouted back: "F*ck off, f*ck*ng idiot. Use the f*ck*ng bike track.”
Since the path was designated a shared use path for cyclists and pedestrians, rather than a cycle lane, the riders were not obliged to use it and were within their rights to ride on the road.
Yesterday, Harris appeared in Kiama Local Court, charged with charged with using his phone while driving, offensive language and driving on the path, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
According to the police, Harris at first claimed it had been his sister filming but owned up when he was shown the footage he had himself recorded.
Matt Ward, acting for Harris, admitted that his client had made a “very poor decision” in driving along the cycle path.
"He will now always be known as the guy who uploaded the video of the cyclists at Jamberoo," he added.
"He's made a very poor error of judgment," Mr Ward said.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Rachel Biffin said what Harris had done constituted "completely inappropriate and unsafe behaviour."
Magistrate Michael Stoddart noted that the video had been viewed more than 3 million times and that Harris’s foul-mouthed rand could have been seen by young children.
"Nothing to be proud of, is it?" he asked him, to which Harris replied, "No, your honour." Harris replied.
Describing his actions as "extremely dangerous," Mr Stoddart told Harris: “This is just total stupidity ... given the facts before the court, there needs to be a conviction.
"In my view, to deal with the matter without conviction would be totally inappropriate, and that relates to all three matters."
Harris was convicted on all three charges and fined a total and $1,250.
He was also given 16 demerit points, double the usual number because the offences happened in a holiday period.
In New South Wales, accruing more than 13 demerit points in a three-year period results in automatic suspension of a driving licence.
The standard suspension is three months plus an extra month for each additional four points beyond the 13-point threshold.
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.