A driver who reversed into a group of cyclists then called them “English bastards” as he drove away has been convicted by a court in Wales of dangerous driving, failure to stop, and racially aggravated harassment by using threatening or abusive words or behaviour.
Gareth Jones. Aged 71, pleaded not guilty at Caernarforn Magistrates’ Court to all three charges, reports Wales Online.
The incident happened on an unclassified road near Beaumaris on Anglesey last summer as the cyclists headed towards Llandegfan.
Clare Bate, prosecuting, said that the bike riders “had to take evasive action to avoid being struck” when Jones overtook them in his Kia Sportage.
The rider leading the group, Valentin Scambraks aked Jones, “What the hell are you doing?”
In response Jones stopped, and told Mr Scambraks: “You're not Welsh. You're an English bastard.”
Jones then drove forward briefly before reversing into the group, with his vehicle’s rear bumper hitting the bike belonging to Mr Scambraks.
One of the riders, Tiernan Ryan, told the court that Jones had said, “Go back to England,” in response to which Mr Scambraks replied: “I'm from the Netherlands, I’m not English’.”
According to Mr Ryan, the motorist “purposefully reversed to try to intimidate us.”
Another rider, Will Holloway, said that “it was an uncomfortable speed to be reversing towards some people.”
Jones, who represented himself, told the court that he had been heading to Ysbyty Gwtynnedd to see his brother and that he had not been speeding on the road, which he had regularly driven along.
He claimed that as he rounded a bend, he encountered a “gang” of riders whom he described as “spread out across the road.”
He also insisted that photos taken at the scene by a couple who were out walking and which had been shared with the cyclists were staged, that the bike had been pushed into his vehicle, and that he had been verbally abused by the cyclists.
Under cross-examination, he denied having called Mr Scambraks “an English bastard,” conceding that “I might have called him an English snob.”
But he said: “How would you feel if someone called you a Welsh bastard? I would feel aggrieved.
"I'm Welsh. I'm proud to be Welsh and they verbally abused me," he added.
Jones was convicted on all three charges and will be sentenced next month. In the meantime has been handed a temporary driving ban.
Simon joined road.cc 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.