In a recent cycling accident case in which an unhinged BMW driver was sent down for 27 months for deliberately ramming a London cyclist and then, as the cyclist lay on the ground with a fractured spine, getting out of his car to threaten to do the same again. The judge had every right to give him double that amount of gaol time. Appropriate sentences for attacks on cyclists need to be enforced!
On March 31st, cyclist Peter Corfe and BMW driver Clifford Harper were trading insults in slow-moving traffic. Something snapped in the property developer BMW driver’s head and he deliberately rammed Corfe, who fell on the road and fractured his spine.
In October the court heard, “As the witnesses walked over to the cyclist, the driver of the red BMW, the defendant, gets out of his car, walks over to the cyclist and says: ‘I’ll do it again’.”
Rather than hang around for the accident to be dealt with, Harper left the scene. CCTV footage and an investigation by the Met Police would eventually identify the car and driver, who was tried at Marylebone Crown Court.
Harper pled that the incident was ‘out of character’, that he was struggling at home and with his business. It seems that this explanation convinced the Judge to pass a more lenient sentence.
In the UK the maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing serious injury is much the same as causing grievous bodily harm in an assault. You get a maximum of five years, of which Harper got 27 months. With dangerous driving you will have a ban and points on your license. While on his 27-month sentence and a little beyond, the driver will have a 36 month driving ban and six points (a similar number to two speeding tickets).
Harper was also ordered to take an ‘extended retest’ at the end of his ban, perhaps in the hope that he will show any propensity to become unhinged again in front of a driving examiner over 45 minutes and not, therefore, be re-licensed should he want to knock another cyclist off his bike…
Judge Philip Bartle QC gave Harper a dressing down too. “As a result of that deliberate intention to drive at Mr Corfe you knocked him off his bike and he fractured his spine. It was, as I say, a deliberate, shocking, appalling piece of driving which has had devastating consequences for Mr Corfe.
“I have read his victim impact statement. He records that he was in excruciating pain as a result of the injuries which you caused. He was in hospital for nine days and it has taken considerable time for him to deal with those injuries.”
While a spell in a London prison is going to be a serious shock for a millionaire property developer (given the febrile state of prisons in London these days it really is no holiday camp) it is clear that Harper got off extremely lightly. As long as he keeps his head down he may get out in 18 months or so. Meanwhile, the cyclist has a permanent, life-changing injury!
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