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09/03/2016 10:06:45

Cyclist brings private prosecution

Careless motorists – beware of vengeful cyclists. Nearly three-quarters of all the far too many serious or fatal bicycle accidents take place in urban areas. 53 year old Martin Porter, a cyclist and barrister, was utterly incensed when an Audi sports car passed him too closely and too fast, nearly knocking him off his bike. The car was being driven at an estimated 50 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone by a driving instructor - Aslan Kayardi.

The incident happened on the busy A315 road which goes from Hounslow to Staines during the rush hour in February 2015. A recording from a camera on Mr Porter’s handlebars showed the bike being ‘blown’ kerbwards in the wake of the car as it passed an estimated 60 to 80 cm away. Mr Porter was also wearing a heart monitor which showed his heart rate suddenly increasing despite his work rate having slowed down.

Mr Porter took his evidence to the police, who declined to take any action, so Mr Porter decided to bring what is thought to be the first UK private prosecution on the charge of dangerous driving against Mr Kayardi. To paraphrase the words of the prosecutor at the trial in Isleworth Crown Court, the driving instructor did not just break the rules of the Highway Code, he was guilty of shattering them.

Mr Kayardi has denied the charge, and stated that he felt the cyclist was himself riding dangerously. The defence in the case have in turn accused Mr Porter of waging a personal campaign against motorists, something Mr Porter denies. According to Mr Porter, he brought about the private prosecution because he felt extremely ‘endangered and alarmed’ by the incident.

In these days of tiny cameras and personal health monitors, you never know who is watching or monitoring your road use. We await the outcome of this case with interest.

07/03/2016 09:36:16

Stolen fire engine causes damage

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time –and who hasn’t had a ‘great’ idea for getting up to mischief at 4:30 in the morning? Two men, one aged 19, and one old enough to know a lot better at 66, have been arrested after they stole a fire engine in Larne, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. They managed to crash the fire engine into a garden after damaging houses and cars along the way, and then left the scene of the crime.

Police were alerted to the antics of the two men, one of whom needed treatment at a local hospital as a result of the crash. People from nearby houses described the results of the experiment in fire engine driving as ‘surreal’. One car was actually upside down, wheels in the air, 5 other cars damaged and strewn about the road, and the fire engine itself was left in the garden of the last house in the street. Some residents of the affected road were unable to go into their houses due to the danger of structural damage, and the remainder were faced with the grisly business of dealing with their insurance companies.

The two culprits were arrested, and the local chief of the fire service commented that it was lucky that no-one was seriously injured during the escapade, and it was a dangerous and selfish act. Not only did the men put their own safety at risk, they also damaged the fire station and put a fire engine out of use.

03/03/2016 09:00:00

A bad week for celebrity drivers

First of all; we heard a few days ago that Steve Coogan, the comedian and actor (aka Alan Partidge, A-Ha and Paul Calf) has received a driving ban following an incident where he was caught doing over 5 miles per hour in a 30 zone. He was clocked driving his sports car (a Mazda MX-5 SE) on the A259 in Brighton last year. His case has finally come to court, which is more than he did. He received a driving disqualification of 28 days after pleading guilty, although he did not attend the court in person. Along with the ban came a fine, victim surcharge and costs that totalled over £800.

Mr Coogan is reported to have a net worth of $12 million (about £8.6 million) so that level of financial penalty shouldn’t trouble him too much, and I’m sure he can afford to employ a driver for his short period of disqualification.

Next in line is the lovely Rula Lenska, who is a well-preserved 68 and a grandmother, but she still looks as glamorous as when did when she starred in Rock Follies in the 1970s. Apparently, her Mini hit a parked vehicle in London, and flipped over on to its side. She was breath tested at the scene and charged with drink driving. Her young grandson (aged 3) was in the car with her, strapped into a car seat in the back and was thankfully unhurt.

15 people tried to help to rescue the pair, and reportedly had difficulty extracting Ms Lenska and the boy because the Mini was locked and the windows were all closed. Ms Lenska was reported to be ‘very shaky’ and took some time to calm down after the incident.

Married to Dennis Waterman (Minder) for a number of years, Ms Lenska was a Big Brother celebrity in 2006 and made the headlines by feeding George Galloway with milk while he imitated a cat. Nice!

01/03/2016 10:20:17

Death threats to a driving examiner

It must be every driving examiner’s nightmare – you fail a student during a test, and they turn on you and start threatening you. That’s what apparently happened when driving examiner John Williams pressed the brake on the dual control car that was being driven by 25 year old Antony Alltree. The car was exiting a junction, and Mr Williams felt it was unsafe to proceed, so pressed the brake and told Alltree that he had failed the test. Alltree got out of the car, and slammed the door, then chased the car down the road, shouting at both Mr Williams and his instructor who had been sitting in the back of the car.

Alltree is alleged to have warned the two men that he could make a single phone call and arrange to have them ‘done’. He was apparently angry because he had failed the test once before and then taken over 100 lessons. He felt confident that the £2,500 he had spent on his latest lessons meant he would pass his test the second time, but the examiner felt that in pulling out of the junction, Alltree had not allowed enough time to safely get across the carriageway, hence applying the dual control brakes.

Alltree admitted at his trial that he had used abusive behaviour, but claimed that the ‘death threat’ was a mishearing of his words that the instructor was ‘making a killing’ out of the driving lessons. He also claimed that the threat of a phone call to get the men ‘done’ was meant to be a call to his mother who would help him to make a complaint about the test being cut short.

Poor Mr Williams was so shaken by the experience that he had to cancel the tests for the remainder of the day. I have the greatest sympathy with anyone who has to deal with bad tempered drivers – it might be more peaceful being a lion tamer.

26/02/2016 09:00:00

Lay-by crash HGV driver pleads guilty

An Edinburgh HGV driver has pleaded guilty to causing the death of a motorist who was parked up in a lay-by off the A9. Frank Simpson was driving his 18-ton refrigerated vehicle on the A9 at around 50 miles per hour when apparently distracted by something, he veered off the carriageway and crashed into a parked car.

The car was a Vauxhall Corsa, and the driver Mr John Trimble was seated, still wearing his seat belt. The lorry hit the Corsa and spun it into the air, and it landed on its roof, killing Mr Trimble. Visibility on the day was good, there were no mechanical defects found in the HGV, and Simpson would have been able to see the parked car for over 30 seconds before the impact. However, tachograph records taken from the HGV showed that although his speed had slowed a little before the impact, there was no evidence that Simpson had begun the correct actions before turning off into the lay-by. He did not apply his brakes at all until about 2 seconds before the impact, and after the impact came to a controlled stop.

There was a witness to the incident, which took place in 2014 in November, who saw the HGV begin to drift towards the lay-by, and was sure it was going to hit the car that was parked there. He attested that the vehicle did not slow down and the brake lights did not come on prior to the impact.

Emergency services including the air ambulance were in attendance, but were unable to save Mr Trimble. Simpson, 35 years old, was an agency driver employed by DHL and had been in their employ for about 6 months. He admitted causing death by dangerous driving and has been banned from driving until sentencing which was deferred to March 2016.

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