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Bournemouth cyclist may face jail after pleading guilty to GBH charge

Philip Benwell left nine-year-old girl with life-threatening injuries after crashing into her

A Bournemouth cyclist has been told that he may face a prison sentence after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm following an incident that left a nine-year-old girl with life threatening injuries.

Philip Benwell, aged 38, had also been charged with the offence of causing grievous bodily harm through wanton and furious cycling in relation to the incident, which took place near Branksome Chine beach on Friday 26 July, reports the Bournemouth Echo.

The Crown Prosecution Service dropped that charge after Benwell entered his guilty plea to the more serious offence of causing grevious bodily harm, which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.

Benwell had been riding his bike downhill when he jumped up onto the pavement to avoid a red traffic light, colliding with Leila Crofts, who can be named after the judge in the case partially lifted reporting restrictions with the approval of her family.

The youngster was taken to the paediatric intensive care unit at Southampton General Hospital after the incident to begin her recovery.

According to Dorset Police, Benwell fled the scene but handed himself in the following day after officers made an appeal.

Judge Peter Johnson, sitting at Bournemouth Crown Court, adjourned the case until 19 December for pre-sentencing reports, and a victim impact statement will also be presented at that hearing.

The judge released Benwell on bail, telling him: “I regard this as a serious matter and you ought to be aware that custody is very much a possibility in this case.”

The last successful prosecution of a charge relating to wanton and furious cycling came in 2009, when Darren Hall received a seven-month jail term.

Hall had collided with pensioner Ronald Turner on a pavement in Weymouth in August the previous year, the 84-year-old pedestrian dying in hospital a fortnight later as a result of his injuries.

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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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