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Hit-and-run driver who deliberately reversed at cyclist and injured him avoids jail

Rhys Bell handed 12-month community order after being found guilty of careless driving – but jury acquitted him of dangerous driving

A driver who deliberately reversed at a cyclist, knocking him off his bike and injuring him, has escaped jail, instead being handed a community order. reports that Rhys Bell, aged 22, had sworn at two cyclists ahead of him on a country rode, yelling at them to get out of the way.

As he passed the riders, one slapped his car – with Bell, from Cramlington, Northumberland, then stopping and reversing back at them, knocking one of them from his bike, before driving off.

The cyclist who was knocked off his bike, Alexander Turner, sustained grazes and bruising as a result of the incident which happened at around 1330 hours on Sunday 4 October 2020, and his bike was written off.

A jury at Newcastle Crown Court acquitted Bell of dangerous driving, but found him guilty of the less serious charge of careless driving as well as failure to stop.

Sentencing Bell to a 12-month community order and banning him from driving for six months, Recorder Andrew Latimer told him: “You swore at Alexander Turner and told him loudly to get out of the road.

“As you drove off he slapped the side window of your vehicle and began to cycle away from you. The incident could have ended there with you going in opposite directions.

“What happened next was your fault. You chose to reverse and go back to speak to him. I'm sure, having heard the trial, you reversed at speed and in doing so you wanted to make your presence felt.

“He saw you reversing and the GPS printout shows he increased his speed to try to avoid the impact.

“You collided with his bike. You knocked him to the ground and reversed over the rear wheel of that bike, coming within inches of his foot.

“He was shocked and believed the vehicle was about to reverse over him. I'm sure that's exactly what he feared. It was a frightening experience.

“You should have stayed at the scene at that stage. In fact, you drove off. You left him on the ground on a country road.

“Four days later you handed yourself in to the police, probably when you realised they would be looking for you.”

In a victim impact statement, Mr Turner said: “Beyond my superficial physical injuries and damage to my bike I've never feared for my life in such a way.

“After the incident I was shocked and angry but relieved he had not run over me.”

Bell was also ordered to pay Mr Turner £600 in compensation and fined £400.

The circumstances of the incident, and the charges brought against Bell have attracted comment on social media, with @CycleGaz saying on Twitter: “How in the hell can deliberately reversing into someone with a car and injuring them be only careless? It's a premeditated conscious action using a vehicle as a weapon?”

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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