A taxi driver has been handed a suspended prison sentence and disqualified from driving for two years after deliberately striking and injuring a cyclist who had slapped his car bonnet and called him a “fat f**k” during an argument concerning the motorist’s dangerous driving.
57-year-old Martin Godfrey drove into cyclist Paul Doody, throwing him off his bike and over a wall, in what the former taxi driver’s barrister described as a “moment of madness” in Cardiff last year, WalesOnline reports.
The road rage incident, which took place on 27 June 2021, occurred after Mr Doody, who was cycling on Colchester Avenue, Penylan, in the east of the Welsh capital, sensed that the motorist – in the words of prosecutor Ieuan Bennett – “was driving far too close to him, giving him no room at all”.
On Tuesday, Cardiff Crown Court heard that, after stopping at a set of traffic lights, the cyclist slapped the wing mirror of Godfrey’s Jaguar to draw the motorist’s attention to the lack of distance between the two road users. However, that warning failed to deter the taxi driver, who continued to drive alongside Doody in a manner the cyclist found “intimidating”.
Doody then smacked the bonnet of Godfrey’s car, prompting the taxi driver to shout: “Don’t touch my f*****g car”.
The cyclist replied, “You’re too f*****g close, move away, move the f**k away”, before reportedly calling the motorist a “f*****g c***” and a “fat f**k”.
Footage was then played to the court of Godfrey pulling his car to the right, away from the cyclist, before swinging to his left into Mr Doody, who was thrown over his handlebars and a nearby wall.
The cyclist suffered tenderness to his left collarbone and left shoulder joint due to the collision, as well as swelling and reduced movement in his arm.
Godfrey initially drove off after striking Doody before later returning to the scene, where he claimed to witnesses that the cyclist attacked him first. One passer-by, however, told him that “he hit your vehicle, he didn’t hit you”.
The taxi driver, who appeared “agitated, confused and breathless”, told police that he left the scene because he was “physically unwell” and wanted to avoid a confrontation with the cyclist. He also initially denied assaulting the victim but later pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and dangerous driving.
Defence barrister Kevin Seal told Cardiff Crown Court that his client, who has previous convictions for wounding, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and failure to surrender, acted “out of character”.
Seal said the incident was a “moment of madness” and that injuring the cyclist was the “last thing Mr Godfrey wished”. The barrister also noted that, due to the collision, the motorist had lost his job as a taxi driver, which he described as a the “mainstay” of his life.
Sentencing Godfrey to eight months in prison suspended for two years, as well as disqualifying him from driving for two years and ordering him to carry out a ten-day rehabilitation activity and 120 hours of unpaid work, Recorder Carl Harrison said: “This was a deliberate move to knock a cyclist off his bike after he hit your bonnet.
“You did this out of anger, you lost your temper. You were in a car, he was a cyclist, you have a responsibility to other road users, particularly those more vulnerable than you.”
The “moment of madness” excuse was also used by Sheffield taxi driver Iftikhar Ahmed following a very similar incident in 2018. Ahmed was handed a suspended sentence for driving at a female cyclist following a verbal altercation, causing her to fall off her bike and suffer a sprained wrist and a bruised hip.
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.