A teenager who was riding his bike when he allegedly injured a man is to stand trial next month accused of causing bodily harm through wanton or furious driving.
Robert Michael Mobley, aged 18, appeared at Swindon Magistrates’ Court on 12 July in relation to an incident that took place on the Wiltshire town on 19 November last year, reports the Swindon Advertiser.
He did not enter a plea and the case has been sent to Swindon Crown Court with a hearing set for 12 August.
The offence with which he has been charged falls under section 35 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which states:
Whosoever, having the charge of any carriage or vehicle, shall by wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect, do or cause to be done any bodily harm to any person whatsoever, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years.
It is an offence that is rarely charged by prosecutors and when it is used, it is typically in cases in which a cyclist is accused of killing a pedestrian.
We have covered five such cases here on road.cc during the past five years, the most recent being earlier this month when 29-year-old Stewart McGinn was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment after he crashed into pedestrian Elizabeth Jayne Stone, aged 79, in Monmouth in June last year, fatally injuring her.
Besides cyclists, users of other forms of transport that are not deemed mechanically-propelled vehicles such as golf carts or mobility scooters could also face prosecution under the 1861 Act if they injured someone.
While e-scooters outside authorised public hire schemes are not legal for use in the UK other than on private land, people who ride them on the public highway who injure or kill other road users would by contrast be prosecuted under road traffic laws such as causing death by carless driving, as well as facing other potential charges such as driving without insurance.
In 2017, the government announced a consultation on bringing in a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling following the conviction of Charlie Alliston for causing bodily harm through wanton or furious driving after he collided with pedestrian Kim Briggs on London’s Old Street. He was acquitted, however, of the more serious charge of manslaughter.
In January this year, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that the government did plan to bring in a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling.
Speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari on the changes to the Highway Code due to come into force at the end of January, Shapps said: “The purpose of the changes is if you drive a lorry, you should give way to a van, which will give way to a car, which will give way to a cyclist, which will give way to a pedestrian. These are just common-sense changes to protect everybody.
“And there is another change I’m bringing in which you may not be aware of, which is to make sure that we’re able to prosecute cyclists who, for example, cause death by their own dangerous cycling.
“So this is quite a balanced package, and I think it’s worth noting that the injuries and deaths that take place because of cyclists are also unacceptable,” Shapps added.
In response to the Secretary of State’s comments, Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at the charity Cycling UK, told road.cc at the time: “Changes to the Highway Code are beneficial to all road users, and it is unhelpful of the Transport Secretary to try and explain or justify them on a quid pro quo basis by linking them to the potential introduction of new cycling offences. The two issues are entirely separate.
“As the Transport Secretary’s own minister Andrew Stephenson confirmed in December, the DfT is already working on the terms and remit of a call for evidence into road traffic offences. While that is long overdue, with a full review first promised over seven years ago after prolonged campaigning from Cycling UK, there’s little more than we can say on this issue, other than that we’ve never opposed cycling offences being be part of that review.
“Introducing new cycling offences in isolation however would simply be a sticking plaster on a broken system, because our current careless and dangerous driving offences aren’t fit for purpose – replicating them for cycling makes no sense at all,” he added.
In 2020, 346 pedestrians were killed in road traffic collisions in Great Britain, but cyclists were only involved in four of those fatal crashes and, moreover, it should be borne in mind that those figures, compiled by the Department for Transport from police reports, do not seek to apportion blame.
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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.