A driver who “used his car as a weapon” against a cyclist, leaving him on a life support machine, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for causing serious injury by dangerous driving – but was acquitted of GBH with intent at his trial last month.
Abdool Choonka, aged 70, was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court last Wednesday, with Judge Anne Brown also handing down a concurrent three-month sentence for criminal damage as well as banning him for driving for four years and three months, reports the London Evening Standard.
The victim, 61-year-old Craig Perrott, said in a victim impact statement issued jointly with his partner Joyce Harvie that the sentence was “too lenient” and that he had experienced suicidal thoughts since the incident, which happened in Tooting on 14 June last year.
Mr Perrott had been riding along Stapleton Road when Choonka pulled out of a junction in his Lexus 4x4, almost hitting him. The cyclist, who had got off his bike, remonstrated with Choonka then driving at him and pinning him against a parked car before making off.
Later, Choonka returned to the scene where he took photographs of Mr Perrott, who was seriously injured, but he did not call for an ambulance. He also claimed during his trial that he had no idea how the car had moved forward.
Mr Perrott, who was a care worker, underwent two operations at St George’s Hospital in Tooting and was later transferred to St Thomas’s Hospital in Lambeth where he spent six days on a life support machine.
In all, he spent three months in hospital, and his injuries were so severe that he needed four titanium ribs and a titanium pelvis. He suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as chronic pain, and is unable to work.
In their victim impact statement he and Ms Harvie, who has given her work in the City to care for him full-time, said: “We believe the sentence to be too lenient and [that it] does not fit the crime.
“Craig is unable, and will never be able, to do what he could do before Mr Choonka used his car as a ‘weapon’ to assault him, after he had narrowly missed him the first time.”
Mr Perrott said: “It feels like it’s ruined my life. More than once it’s made me want to end my life … It was an act of needless aggression.”
Ms Harvie added: “What continues to cause huge and unnecessary stress is the defendant’s refusal to take responsibility.
“Our lives now consist of trying to put a broken man back together on a daily basis.”
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.