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Driver who aimed car at cyclist in Oxford gets nine and a half year sentence

Rohan Crooks cleared of attempted murder but convicted of wounding with intent

A driver who was the subject of a nationwide manhunt after he ran over a cyclist in Oxford on purpose has been acquitted by a jury of attempted murder but convicted of wounding with intent and jailed for nine and a half years.

Passing sentence at Oxford Crown Court as well as a ten-year ban from driving, Mr Justice Nicol sent out an unequivocal message, saying Crooks’ actions represented “a gross misuse of a car, which has to be marked."

"I do not accept that your remorse is genuine.

"Only a custodial sentence is appropriate."

Rohan Crooks, aged 34 and from Walthamstow, North East London, who also had connections to Oxford, went on the run for more than two years after the incident in Cuddesdon Way in October 2008.

As previously reported on, after being featured on the BBC TV programme Crimewatch and Thames Valley Police’s ‘Badvent Calendar’ of its most wanted criminals, Crooks eventually turned himself into police in February this year.

Reports of last week’s court proceedings in the Oxford Mail, however, cast a new light on the incident; it transpires that the victim and his assailant were acquainted prior to the incident to which the charges related.

So rather than targeting a cyclist he didn’t know, Crooks had aimed his vehicle at a specific person; indeed, it’s unclear whether the man he hit, Orville Francis, known as Dean, was actually on his bike when he was struck.

Prior to the incident to which the charges related, Crooks had been involved in an argument with the Francis outside shops in Oxford’s Blackbird Leys Road.

Mr Francis told the court that the dispute between the pair had its roots in a car owned by a friend of his, whose name was only given as Murphy, apparently causing damage to Crooks’ Lexus.

He said that he told Murphy to make arrangements to either pay Crooks in cash for the damage, or to tell his insurance company about the incident.

Murphy did not appear at the shops in Blackbird Leys as had been arranged, but Crooks did, and during an argument with Mr Francis, was said to have produced a knife. Crooks himself denied that, but accused one of two men accompanying Mr Francis of having threatened him with a knife.

He told the court that Crooks then drove off while he himself, accompanied by two friends, headed off along Cuddesdon Way.

According to the Oxford Mail, Mr Francis told the court: “Next me recall Steve behind me [saying] ‘Dean, Dean, Dean, look out, look out’.

“I think my man [Crooks] was going to come back with knife so put my bike and flung it to the side to spin round to see what’s going on.

“It’s like a split of a second. I saw this car was about right there," indicating a chair a metre away from where he was standing in the court.

“I saw the car looking down and the bumper, I saw Kerissa [Crooks' then girlfriend] in the car and that’s the only thing I can remember.”

After being struck by by Crooks’ car, Mr Francis and dragged for 40 feet along the road. He spent a month in hospital recovering from his injuries, described as life-threatening.

Crooks, who had told Oxford Crown Court that his brother had been shot dead in his native Jamaica just a few days before that October 2008 incident, pleaded not guilty to the charges of attempted murder and wounding with intent.

He pleaded guilty to the counts of inflicting grievous bodily harm and dangerous driving. He was also acquitted on a charge of carrying a bladed article.

He had told Oxford Crown Court that his brother had been shot dead in an incident in his native Jamaica just a few days earlier.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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pedalingparamedic | 12 years ago

Nine and a half year sentence.

Ten year driving ban.

Is the law an ass?!!

Simon_MacMichael | 12 years ago

The other thing I would add to what Nick said is that it's good to see a court take the view that a car can be used as a weapon to deliberately inflict harm, irrespective of whether or not the victim is on foot or on a bike, or whether or not he was known to the accused (which are in any event immaterial to the charge on which Crooks was convicted).

Given events such as the Edinburgh road rage attack that left a cyclist hanging on to a car bonnet to try and escape injury or worse the other week, it's a subject we would expect would be of interest to users.

We do from time to time cover stories in which cycling is incidental, or even absent altogether, particularly where safety on the roads is concerned (eg speed cameras). The fact that this story was one we were already following made it an obvious one to cover, even once the full facts emerged.

bikecellar | 12 years ago

So it's got now't to do with motorist/cyclist but is the use of a motor vehicle as a weapon in a fracas? So what is it being reported on this site for?

nick_rearden replied to bikecellar | 12 years ago
bikecellar wrote:

So what is it being reported on this site for?

It's a long running story going back to 2008 where it was originally reported from the scene as 'cyclist deliberately run over by man in car' which certainly was interesting to all of us at the time. Obviously as time has gone by with regular updates the story has evolved into more of an EastEnders-type plot but, if nothing else, it shows why one should never jump to conclusions based on the initial facts. Doesn't change that the now-convicted driver was driving into a man with a bike, which is never a good thing, whether he is a 'cyclist' or not. Imagine if our judicial system just said, "Ah, whatever, it's just a bunch of hoodlums having a fracas?"

Karbon Kev | 12 years ago

Yeah I do agree.

mr-andrew | 12 years ago

About time the sentence fit the crime. However I can't help but wonder if his sentence would have been the same if he was a middle class white man from Kent? Probably not. We've seen so many cases of motorists getting of with a slap on the wrist. It's time for the courts to get serious about convicting motorists who act like this thug.

Karbon Kev | 12 years ago


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