Rare charge kicks in after child seriously injured in Bournemouth

A Bournemouth man appeared in court yesterday accused of wanton or furious cycling leading to grievous bodily harm.

According to the Bournmouth Echo, Philip Douglas Benwell, 38, is charged with colliding with a juvenile on Friday July 25, causing the victim life-threatening injuries.

Benwell is also facing a separate charge of causing grievous bodily harm during the incident.

Benwell spoke only to confirm his details. The victim - whose identity is protected by a court order - needed hospital treatment after the collision.

The case was adjourned until November 25, when Mr Benwell will enter a plea.

Wanton and furious cycling is the closest offence to dangerous driving that a cyclist can be charged with. It may sound slightly comical, but it’s usually used only in cases of serious injury or death caused by a cyclist’s actions.

The last conviction in the UK for a wanton and furious riding offence was that of Darren Hall, who was sentenced to seven months in jail after colliding with Ronald Turner in August 2008. Mr Turner later died of his injuries.

Mr Hall had been riding quickly down a hill in Weymouth when he went up on to the pavement on a blind bend to avoid a red traffic light.

Despite popular cycling mythology, a rider cannot be stopped for wanton and furious cycling. For the offence to kick in, an injury has to occur. In the wording of the The wording of Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 1948):

“Drivers of carriages injuring persons by furious driving Whosoever, having the charge of any carriage or vehicle, shall by wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect, do or cause to be done any bodily harm to any person whatsoever, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years.”

A bike is considered a carriage under highways law.

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Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.