Jail for 'road-rage' motorist who drove at cyclists holding him up

This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.

A road-rage motorist who swerved into a group of cyclists - colliding with one of them - was told by a judge he could caused "catastrophic injuries”.

A court heard how John Rafferty “saw the red mist” because he was unable to get past the dozen-strong cycling group, which included two 12-year-old boys.

The 50-year-old:

*Repeatedly beeped his horn at them;

*Swerved into the peloton three times in a bid to overtake them;

*Deliberately sprayed his screen wash so they got wet.

Finally, he chased after the lead rider who had cycled past him to remonstrate, hitting his bike and sending him flying into a hedge.

This is where the incident happened

This is where the incident happened

Then, when his case came to court, he accused the cycling group of “getting together” to ensure their statements matched and he received the maximum prosecution.

Jailing Rafferty for 16 weeks, District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said: “This involved you using your motor vehicle as a weapon against a vulnerable group of road users in what can be termed a ‘road-rage incident'.

“Cyclists are vulnerable not because they don’t know how to use the road but because they lack protection from impacts such as this.

“You firstly intimidated them because you wanted to get past them, sounding your horn continuously for 25 or 30 seconds.

“There were cyclists as young as 12 in that group and the way you drove would have caused them fear and anxiety.

“You attempted to overtake the group and swerved into them on three occasions and used your screen wash against them.

The incident involved members of the CC Giro club from Sutton Coldfield

The incident involved members of the CC Giro club from Sutton Coldfield

“Finally, when one of them rode past you to remonstrate, you ran him off the road and into a hedge.

“This could have resulted in absolutely catastrophic and life-changing injuries for the cyclist involved.”

Peter Bettany, prosecuting at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court said the incident took place in Fauld Lane, at Coton in the Clay, near Tutbury, on July 26 last year.

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He said the cycling group, from Sutton Coldfield, were riding legally at two abreast down the road when Rafferty came up behind them.

Mr Bettany said: “The defendant started to sound his horn for long periods, tried to pull past them and swerved into them on three occasions, deliberately squirting his screen wash as he did so and showering the cyclists.

“One of the lead riders rode past him and started to remonstrate through the window, before pulling in front of him.

John Rafferty lost his temper in the road rage incident

John Rafferty lost his temper in the road rage incident

“This seemed to annoy the defendant even more and he drove within inches of the lead rider, eventually hitting his back tyre and sending him off his bike and into the side of the road.”

Mr Bettany said Rafferty, of Grange Street, Burton, then stopped his car and the remainder of the cycling club also stopped until the police arrived.

He was charged with dangerous driving, which he finally pleaded guilty to at his third court hearing.

Two of the cycling club, called CC Giro, were in court to see Rafferty jailed.

Speaking outside the hearing, the man who was injured, who did not wish his name to be published, said: “I am in my 60s and I have ridden for more than 50 years, including leading cycling tour holidays in the UK and abroad, and I have never experienced road rage like this in all of that time.”

And Geoff Howle, ride secretary of the club, said: “We are pleased to see that the judge has handed this motorist a custodial sentence.

“It sends out a message that behaviour of this nature towards cyclists legally using the roads will not be tolerated by the courts.”

Simon Dean, for Rafferty, said his client was disabled and immediate custody would have an impact on his condition.

He said: “On the day in question, he saw the red mist, his behaviour was stupid and, through me, he apologises to the court for what he did.”