A teenager who committed a series of violent bikejackings in London in October 2021, including one in which he knocked then-Alpecin-Fenix pro Alexandar Richardson off his bike using a moped in Richmond Park, before dragging him along for 100 metres and threatening him with a machete, has been sentenced to 12 months, six of which will be spent on licence.
The bikejacker, who also carried out two further attacks before he was caught, was arrested after walking into a café where officers, working on the case and planning on how to locate him, were having breakfast.
Last month, he appeared at Croydon Youth Court, where he admitted two counts of moped-enabled robbery, one count of attempted robbery, and possession of criminal property.
At Wimbledon Youth Court yesterday, the 17-year-old, who was 15 at the time of the attacks, was sentenced to 12 months, including six months in prison and six months on licence.
In October 2021, we reported that pro cyclist Richardson, a medallist at last year’s British national road race championships, was on a training ride through Richmond Park when he was targeted by a gang of masked moped riders who rammed him off his bike, dragged him along at speed for 100 metres, then threatened him with a machete as they stole his prized custom Specialized S-Works.
Richardson, who told the road.cc Podcast that he wasn’t “shocked or completely surprised” by the terrifying ordeal, suffered injuries to his ribs, knees, arms, back, and head in the attack.
As the police investigated the bikejacking, two further violent robberies took place in the Richmond Park area the following Monday.
A cyclist in his 50s was able to escape after the attackers failed to hit him with their stolen mopeds, though moments later a second man was rammed off his bike, suffering injuries from his fall, and threatened with a machete.
A comprehensive CCTV trawl by the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Venice team led to the identification of a 15-year-old boy as the key suspect. Despite searching several addresses a week later, the police were unable to find him or the other attackers.
However, following the searches, as members of the investigating team discussed the case over breakfast, the suspect, as luck would have it, walked into the same café. He was promptly arrested, and was found to have a machete tucked down his trousers, a balaclava, and a large quantity of cash.
Clothing later found at properties linked to the suspect matched the descriptions provided by the victims, while his phone contained an image of Richardson’s stolen custom-built bike leaning against a wall near the park, taken just minutes after the attack.
At yesterday’s hearing, Detective Constable Ian Croxford, from Operation Venice, said: “The defendant carried out a number of terrifying offences with no regard for the safety of the victims or the injuries he could cause by ramming them off their bikes and dragging them along the road. It was only by good fortune that none of them were more seriously hurt.
“All of the victims have spoken of the effect these robberies have had on their lives. No-one should have to change the way they behave because of the violent actions of others and we are pleased that this defendant has now been prosecuted.”
Speaking after the sentencing, Richardson, who now rides for the UK-based Saint Piran team, described the lasting impact the attack has had on both him and his family.
Richardson at the British road race championships in Lincoln, just ten days after the attack (Will Palmer/SWpix.com)
“This crime made me fear for my life; I thought I could be murdered at that moment and it continues to cause feelings of anxiety, stress, sleepless nights and a fear to my family’s safety to the point we have hired overnight security at our property on more than one occasion,” the 32-year-old said.
“I have a huge fear of riding my bike now on open roads in the UK as this could happen again at any time. My children have also been affected, they have had disturbed sleep and are traumatised by what they saw in the evening with my physical injuries.
“No one should have to feel this way. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I have.”
Since Richardson was targeted in Richmond Park, violent bikejackings have become a worryingly common occurrence across the UK.
Just last week, four teenagers were arrested after a 20-year-old cyclist was attacked and had his brand-new bike taken in a violent ambush in broad daylight in a park just north of Birmingham, leaving the rider with broken fingers and a badly swollen face.
Last month, a London cyclist was attacked and had his bike stolen by two masked men during an ambush on a popular cycle route, not far from the scene of previous similar bikejackings.
road.cc reader Ben was left bleeding “fairly profusely” after being struck in the nose during the attack, just months after another cyclist was threatened with a “foot-long knife” on the same South Bermondsey stretch of Cycleway 10, where graffiti warning cyclists of attacks had been previously daubed.
In February, a cyclist was knocked from his bicycle by masked men and threatened with a knife during an attack on his ride home from work through an East London park, while just before Christmas three masked men armed with machetes attacked a cyclist, stealing his bike and phone, and threatened a passer-by earlier on a busy riverside path in Bristol.
That attack came less than a month after a group of youths, believed to be aged between 12 and 16, attempted to rob a woman of her bike and handbag on a cycle path close to Filton Abbey Wood railway station, to the north of Bristol.
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.