Case Study

Suspended sentence for driver who used camper van "as a weapon" to ram cyclist (June 2013)

A driver who, in the words of the trial judge used his camper van “as a weapon” to ram a cyclist in a road rage attack which only by matter of “luck than judgement” didn’t kill him has been given a suspended three month prison sentence, banned from driving for a year, he was given a curfew for four months from 7pm to 5am and ordered to do 200 hours community service.

The Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence on a charge of attempted grievous bodily harm and graphic designer Alistair Burnell pleaded guilty of a charge of dangerous driving at Hull Crown court for a road rage attack last year in which cyclist, Alan Smith suffered abrasions to his hips, ankles and elbow and grazes to his head. Trial judge Judge Michael Mettyear, told Burnell: “You could have killed him and you would have been be going to prison for a some time. “It was more through luck than judgment that he was not injured more seriously.”

Hull Crown Court was told the the incident developed after Burnell drove his van too close to Mr Smith, who banged on the side by way of warning. Words were exchanged and then the cyclist rode on, fearing – as the Hull Daily Mail reports – that the situation was going to escalate. After a short distance though he felt a shunt from behind, lost control of his bicycle and fell to the ground.

Burnell’s barrister, Gurdial Singh, said to Judge Mettyear: “The use of a vehicle in this way clearly crosses the custody threshold but I seek to persuade you to suspend the sentence.”

In his pre-sentence remarks Judge Mettyear said: “You were driving this vehicle down a road and the cyclist was clearly concerned about the closeness to him that you got your van.

“If he could bang on the side of your van, you were too close.

“That was not the worst of it. You had heated words. You had words and he was telling you what you had done and you both had an altercation and you swerved at him.

“Anyone using a vehicle as a weapon for whatever reason deserves a custodial sentence and you are going to get one.”
He then went on to suspend the sentence.

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