A former Olympic cyclist accused of hitting a female motorist, who had allegedly cut him off, during an expletive-laden tirade has had all charges against him dropped, after a medical report found that he was suffering from PTSD from previously being hit by a motorist while cycling.
68-year-old Tony Lally, who represented Ireland in the road race at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and who now works as a superannuation executive in Australia, had pleaded guilty to common assault and entering a vehicle without the owner’s consent, following the apparent road rage incident in July.
However, on Friday a judge ruled that all charges against Lally would be dropped and that the case would be dealt with under the terms of Australia’s mental health legislation, the Daily Mail reports.
The altercation between the cyclist and the driver took place on 12 July this year on Pittwater Road, in Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
According to police documents, the motorist, known as Monique, was pulling into a driveway when she cut across and struck Lally, who told officers that he had yelled a warning prior to the collision.
Lally then initially told officers that he had followed the driver to a nearby carpark, where he admitted that there had been a verbal confrontation, but insisted that he did not hit her.
“I didn’t touch her at all. I definitely didn’t touch her,” Lally reportedly said. He then claimed that the driver, who was filming the altercation, had “hit herself” as Lally reached for her phone, which he said was simply an attempt “to get the camera and talk to her”.
However, footage from the driver’s phone shows Lally – who the motorist said had cycled towards her “in an aggressive manner” – leaning into the victim’s car and reaching for her phone.
In the clip, which has been shared by the news outlet 7News Sydney, Lally can be heard shouting, “Are you f***ing blind, are you?” before calling the driver a “fat c***” and telling her, “You pulled right in front of me and nearly knocked me off”.
By the time Lally was charged in relation to the incident 20 days later, footage from his own bike camera had been recorded over.
Despite his initial claims to officers, Lally eventually pleaded guilty to common assault and entering a vehicle without the owner’s consent. A third charge, of stalking or intimidating with the intention of causing fear of physical or mental harm, was withdrawn by the prosecution earlier this year.
In Manly Local Court on Friday, however, the charges were dismissed, with Magistrate Robyn Denes linking Lally’s aggressive reaction to an earlier incident with a driver.
According to the Daily Mail, Denes had disclosed to the court that she was a cyclist, and asked the public prosecutor and Lally’s lawyer if they had any issues with her hearing the case. No objection was tendered.
“As soon as I heard what happened, I asked ‘Has he been hit by a car previously?’ And lo and behold, that is what had happened,” Denes told the court.
According to a medical report seen by the court, Lally suffers from PTSD stemming from a previous collision with a motorist.
Dismissing the charges, Denes said: “This case is quite specific because the offending conduct relates specifically to what happened to you as a cyclist. No doubt you had not envisioned that happening again.”
The judge confirmed that Lally’s case would now be dealt with according to Australia’s Mental Health Act 2014.
However, motorist Monique responded to the judge’s decision by telling the Mail that mental health should not be an excuse for abusive behaviour.
“This was an absolute joke,” she said. “I have been in car accidents and I don’t open people’s car doors and abuse them.
“What about my mental health issues? What about me not being able to go in a lift with men? Struggling when I see cyclists?
“This was handed to them on a plate. There was footage and he pleaded guilty, but instead he walked off.”
Claiming that the news had made her feel like she had been “hit again”, Monique continued: “This was the one chance for the court system to send a message to cyclists that are incognito and are untrackable that if they abuse people there will be repercussions.
“But this is the precedent the court is sending? No wonder there are so many abused women in this country.”
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