Below is a statement I’m going to give to the police tomorrow. I reported a road rage and assault incident earlier today. The statement has had identifying details removed.
When you get to the end you’ll see there’s a funny side to the story, but also a worrying side.
Two skinny roadies – me and Dave – could be charged with assaulting a burly Border Reiver type, built like the proverbial brick outhouse, and with fists the size of my head.
Now, we were non-violent (so would you be if you saw the width of the driver’s shoulders) but the driver and his mate pulled a fast one on us and, if the police believe them, we could be for the drop.
UPDATE: A policeman came to take down our statements. Dave had already decided that if the driver didn’t make up a cock-and-bull story and accuse him of assault, he would let the matter drop.
The policeman read my statement below and said he didn’t know what the other party was going to do. Dave asked him for clarification on this and the policeman rang through to the police officer in another force who was dealing with the incident.
She said the whole incident sounded “ridiculous” and that the driver complained I had been in his way. But he didn’t make a complaint that Dave hit him, which, given the guy’s theatricals, was our main worry.
I’d say there was clear case of dangerous driving involved here but, with no witnesses, there’s little the police can do.
The policeman said every driver needs to exercise caution on flooded roads and shouldn’t expect a cyclist to ride through surface water.
Dave said: “There could be a pothole under a big puddle.”
The policeman agreed: “I hit one last night, it nearly broke my car’s wishbone.”
As an aside, the policeman expressed amazement that we had cycled from Newcastle to Mitford:
“I’d get tired doing that in my car,” he said.
At approximately 10.55am on Wednesday 17th December I was cycling with a friend – Dave Goodwin – north on a minor country lane between the B6524 and the village of Mitford.
Dave was 20-30 metres ahead of me. The road was slightly downhill and was partially flooded, with deep puddles either side of the road and unknown number of potholes hidden by the surface water.
We had been cycling from Newcastle, approx 20 miles away, and I was now warm enough to take off my gloves. I looked behind me and saw no vehicle. Thinking I was safe, I took off one glove as I was riding along. Before I took off the second glove I instinctively looked behind me and was surprised to see a vehicle, approaching fast.
As there was a flooded area coming up I was 1.5 metres from the left hand verge to avoid what could be a deep hole. I assumed the car would have to slow, and pass me once I had passed the flood. I didn’t think it would be able to pass me as at this point as there was no room for safe overtaking.
Within a split second I realised the vehicle had not slowed down. It was a 4×4 and it ploughed into the right hand grass verge, spraying flood water as it drove past at 30-40mph. The vehicle had been inches from my right hand side. The driver of the vehicle must have been able to see me from a long distance away. Stunned at the passing move at speed, with the vehicle veering on to the verge, I was shocked at the proximity of the vehicle and I shouted:
“You nearly f***ing killed me! You can’t do that!”
At this, the driver of the vehicle jammed on his brakes and stopped abruptly. I left the road and ended up on the muddy verge on the car’s left hand side.
Two men got out of the vehicle (a Nissan 4×4, licence number 00000) and the driver (white, aged about 50, and about 5ft 8, and dressed in a brown waterproof jacket, sturdy boots and with a fleece hat) came across to me, effing and blinding.
He came very close to my face and had his fist by the side of his head and pointed at my face, as though he was about to strike me. His hands were far wider than the average man’s hand and I feared that if he hit me, as he was verbally threatening to do, I would be badly hurt. He kept his fist in this position for some time.
His passenger – about the same age as the driver, 5ft 10, with glasses and dressed in a green fleece and also wearing sturdy boots – was doing his best to calm down the driver, urging him not to hit me.
Dave had by this time come to my side and was also urging the driver not to hit me, saying it ‘wasn’t worth it.’
The driver spat as he shouted at me: “You had your hands off your bike! Your mate was in the middle of the road!”
I told the driver and the passenger I had been removing my gloves, there were obstacles in the road I couldn’t avoid and that he should have slowed down and waited the few metres until I had passed the flooded area.
The claim that I was riding no-handed was repeated, with venom. The driver then said:
“You were going very fast, we could hardly catch up to you.”
I don’t remember riding for any great distance with my hands off the handlebars although might have done fleetingly. However I was definitely holding one side of the bars when the driver closed in on me and came past me. The other hand was still putting a glove in my rear jacket pocket, even when the driver came past and mounted the verge with his right set of wheels.
At this point I was not travelling very fast, perhaps 15mph.
As the driver was still threatening violence – with his fist quivering as if on a hair-trigger – Dave told him he had better stop or he would call the police. The driver urged him to do so.
Dropping his fist, the driver returned to the car. I took out my mobile phone (an iPhone) and took a photograph of the car’s number plate. At this the driver ran back to me, snatched the phone off me and said:
“What are you doing with that thing?”
I said I was taking a photo of his number plate to give to the police, and asked him nicely to give back the phone.
He refused and appeared to want to throw the phone over into the field behind me. He also looked at the ground briefly and I feared he might smash the phone off the road. Again, I urged him to give back the phone, and I might have said something along the lines of ‘you’re stealing it,’ or similar.
He shoved it back at me, hitting my chest with it, and I held on to it. My photos of the incident are not terribly good because each time I raised it to take photos, the driver made a move to come running to grab it again. In the end I hid it in my jacket, although I had managed to get some photos of his registration number.
By now there were three or four vehicles stuck either side of the Nissan, unable to pass on such a narrow lane.
I took my phone and went to the back of the car to take photos of the flooded area and the verge the driver had mounted to get past me.
The passenger now started taking photographs of us with his mobile phone, saying he would report us to the police because I had shouted at them when they overtook me. We were happy for him to take photographs and told him so.
Thinking the incident was now over, Dave went back to retrieve his bike, 20-30 metres away. While I was taking photos of the verge, I heard shouting and saw that the driver had followed Dave. The driver had his fists clenched by his side. Under no provocation whatsover, the driver hit Dave on the back of the head, just under his helmet. Dave, who until now had been a peacemaker, was infuriated and walked towards the driver, telling him he had just committed assault.
The driver walked 10 metres back towards his car but then turned back and, facing Dave at very close quarters, said in a fake dramatic voice, “Ow! Ow! Look, you hit me!” He put his hands to his eye socket, feigning injury. He then fell to the road and started writhing in fake pain, suggesting the passenger take photographs. The passenger did so.
The day had taken a farcial turn and it was bizarre to see the driver on the road, pretending he had been hit in the face. He got up. Not quite believing what I had just seen, I asked the driver what he did for a living. Spitting venom again – not seeing the funny side of his antics – he shouted “I’m an actor!”
I said: “Yeh, but what do you really do for a living?” Aggressively, he shouted, “I’m an actor! I’m an actor!”
The driver then went to his car, opened the driver’s door and took out a green, military-style rucksack, bringing it in our direction. He had one hand inside, seemingly about to take something out.
I have no idea what was in the rucksack because at this point we decided to leave.
Dave and myself rode away, informing the driver and the passenger that we would be calling the police and reporting the incident. The driver and the passenger said they would be doing the same, daring us to stay. We declined to do this because of the driver’s aggression and bizarre antics.
We feared the vehicle would chase us but the Nissan did not pass. We rode to Ponteland police station and reported the incident, relating the facts above.