RDRF is pelased to have supported Martin Porter in hisaction described below in his press release:
PRESS RELEASE: HELMET CAMERA SECURES CONVICTION OF MOTORIST FOR A PUBLIC ORDER OFFENCE
Today at West London Magistrates Court, Scott Lomas was convicted of using threatening or abusive words and behaviour contrary to the Public Order Act 1986. He was sentenced to a fine of £250, a victim surcharge of £15 and prosecution costs of £300 (a total of £565).
The circumstances that gave rise to the conviction took place on the A315 near Hounslow in West Londonon 4th November 2010. Lomas had hooted at, and then shouted abuse at, a cyclist, Martin Porter, when he was unable to pass at a restriction in the carriageway width caused by a central traffic island. The cyclist and motorist had passed and repassed each other several times with Lomas shouting abuse that culminated in a threat to kill Mr Porter.
Porter recorded the incident on a helmet camera and later the same day reported the incident to the police who were disinclined to investigate. After casual contact with the CPS in Hounslow the officer responsible for investigating the case decided upon ‘no further action’. Mr Porter, who is a practising QC, wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the CPS then required the police to investigate the offence and to submit the evidence to them. Following an investigation, the same investigating police officer declined to defer the decision to the CPS and again chose ‘no further action’. Only after a further complaint from Mr Porter, did a more senior Metropolitan Police Officer refer the file to the CPS, who agreed that a prosecution should take place.
Lomas denied the charge against him until his submission that the case should be dismissed as an abuse of process, because the police officer had indicated to him that there would be no further action, was rejected by the Judge. Thereafter he changed his plea to one of guilty.
Lomas, who was aged 24 at the time of the incident, was in breach of a suspended prison sentence imposed by the Crown Court in April 2010 following his conviction on a count of malicious wounding. It was decided not to refer the matter back to the Crown Court for possible implementation of his suspended sentence.
Commenting after the verdict Martin Porter said
“I am pleased that justice has now been done and that the Crown Prosecution Service had the moral fibre to reverse the Metropolitan Police’s attempts to drop this case notwithstanding the strength of the evidence. It is sadly too much to hope that all mindless aggression and violence directed at cyclists will instantly cease but at least this conviction may help to discourage similar incidences of mindless ‘roadrage’ against vulnerable road users.”
“I am very grateful to prosecuting counsel (a cyclist it transpires!) who dealt with the case efficiently and courteously. I am grateful too for the moral support I have received from the CTC, Roadpeace, The Road Danger Reduction Forum and the vast majority of cyclists who have contacted me.”
Martin PorterQC is a leading personal injury lawyer practising at 2TempleGardens,LondonEC4Y 9AY and is also a keen amateur racing cyclist with Thames Velo. All enquiries should be directed to his chambers on 020 7822 1200. Martin is considering writing an article about his experience, as a victim of a crime, at the hands of the police and if you would be interesting in publishing such an article to a wide audience please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Robert Davis writes: A number of RDRF supporters have commented that this case only came to court because:
1. The victim was a practising QC with an interest in safety on the road.
2. This person was skilled enough in his knowledge of the law to write to the CPS and the DPP in a way which would make sense to them, and to persist after an investigating officer had twice declined to proceed.
3. He had to provide evidence from a camcorder.
Most people will not be in this position, although many will be members of cycling organisations like the LCC or CTC which can give the neccessary assistance.
The main point for me was that a police officer did not take this case at all seriously enough – an example of institutionalised discrimination against cyclists / for unlawful motorist behaviour – but that the police were pressured into doing so. Hopefuly this case will elad the Met and other Police forces to take this sort of incident more seriously in future.