Nottinghamshire police have issued a witness appeal after a cyclist was seriously injured in a hit and run incident on Friday evening. The victim, off-duty police officer PC Diederick Coetzee, is in a critical but stable condition in a Mansfield hospital.
The Daily Mail reports that PC Coetzee, who uses a bike to patrol his beat in Mansfield South, earned the nickname 'Robocop' in 2005 after beating the record for the most arrests made by an officer, for which he was given a formal citation.
He had already beaten the previous record of 305 arrests in October, and by the end of the year, he had made 366 arrests, although it later transpired tha his annual total had been beaten by another officer who made three more arrests.
The following year, he got the record back, making 404 arrests.
At the time, PC Coetzee, a regular competitor in Ironman triathlon events, said: "I know my patch like the back of my hand, so when I give chase on my bike there’s little chance of a criminal getting away, even if he’s in a car."
One theory police are wroking on is that the officer may have been deliberately targeted by someone he had previously brought to justice, although they were keen to stress that was just one avenue of enquiry among many. "‘There are plenty of people out there who could have a grudge against him," a police source told the Daily Mail. "It is certainly something we have to consider."
Originally from South Africa, the 54-year-old spent two and a half decades working in law enforcement in his native country before moving to the UK, including stints as an explosives expert and as a dog handler.
The incident that resulted in PC Coetzee being hospitalised this weekend occurred on Bildworth Lane between Rainworth and Bludworth. According to the police PC Coetzee was travelling towards Bildworth when he was struck from behind at about 6pm by what police believe was a metallic grey coloured vehicle.
Investigating officer Det Sgt Ged Hazelwood told the Mansfield Chad: “Blidworth Lane is a poorly illuminated thorough-way but the collision happened during rush hour, when many people were headed home from work.
“Pc Coetzee was wearing a high-visibility vest and had his bike lights turned on."
The police Crash Investigation Team are trawling through local CCTV footage in a bid to spot the car. Debris left at the scene indicates that the car was damaged in the incident and local garages and car repairers are being urged to look out for a vehicle matching the description.
Witnesses or anyone with information about the vehicle being sought are urged to contact the Nottinghamshire Police Crash Investigation team or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.