Case Study

Road rage driver convicted of assaulting two cyclists

Incident date: 
Thu, 27 Mar 2014

Kenneth Warrington was banned from driving for two months and fined £400 for the incident in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.

Former lorry driver, Warrington, 55, admitted two charges of assaulting two cyclists who turned out to be off-duty police officers, reports.

He also admitted careless driving during the incident, which occurred on Sligo Road on 27 March 2014.

Separate charges relating to disorderly conduct and blocking the road were dropped.

Sergeant Alan Ward and Constable Ruairi McMahon were riding along the Sligo Road with a third cyclist when a coach passed them, with an Isuzu Trooper 4X4 driven by Warrington following behind.

Two of the cyclists were riding abreast, and the court was told that he beeped his horn and passed the cyclists so close that one of them was forced to take evasive action.

According to the prosecution, the motorist then stopped his vehicle, blocking the road and causing the cyclists to stop, then approached them in what was described as a state of agitation, with clenched fists and swearing at them.

Sergeant Ward, who works at the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Roads Policing Unit, stretched his arm out to try and calm the driver down, but Warrington pushed it away.

He then returned to his car and drove off, but the two police officers were able to identify him and police interviewed him a week later, when he said he was the driver involved and admitted pushing the cyclist’s arm.

In court, he also admitted through his defence solicitor, Myles McManus that he had used his horn and had passed the cyclists too close.

Mr McManus said: “This was a momentary outburst of bad temper and out of character,” adding that Warrington’s haulage firm had gone out of business due to the recession.

The lawyer said that during his work as a lorry driver, his client drove “millions upon millions of miles” and had an unblemished driving record other than receiving points on his licence for not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile phone.

Claiming that the third cyclist had made a rude gesture, Mr McManus said of Warrington, “He is not a man who causes difficulty for other road users.”

Besides the physical assault on Sergeant Ward, Warrington, whom his lawyer said accepted that “cyclists are very vulnerable road users,” also admitted assaulting Constable McMahon due to the fear of injury caused to the latter by passing him with only two or three feet to spare.

“This is not the most serious of incidents to come before the court,” Mr McManus added.

However, passing sentence, District Judge Nigel Broderick told Warrington: “This was a nasty incident, typically described as road rage,” and that whatever gesture had been made was no excuse for his actions.

He added: “I think your emotions got the better of you.”

CTC's view: 

Assault charges in driving-related incidents are rare, hence CTC welcomes the fact that these convictions have been secured, but police forces need to be much more willing to bring assault charges against drivers who assault civilian cyclists too.

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