Moving things along
I had been warned by the road justice team that although they had decided to issue a summons but due to workload, it would be likely that this would not be processed until we got to six months from the date of the incident (as this is the time limit to issue the necessary summons). I was concerned that when I did speak to them, they advised that some information was not on their file, so I emailed the investigating officer who confirmed when this was sent to them. The road justice team must have been getting sick of me calling for updates (although they were always keen to stress that I was not a burden). However, based on the contradiction regarding missing information, I felt justified on chasing them as I wanted to ensure they didn’t miss any important information.
Come July (the incident happened in January). I received a letter from the police dated three days short of six months from the incident (cutting it quite fine) informing me that the driver would be required to enter a plea at the local magistrates court in a fortnight’s time.
Not aware of the intricacies of our legal system, I phoned the magistrates court the day after the date on the letter and found out that the driver had submitted a written plea of not guilty and that this would be proceeding to trial in three months time and was given the scheduled trial date.
About three weeks before the trial, I was anxious that I had not received any formal notification from the police or crown prosecution service of the trial date, so I decided to chase them up. This turned out to be a wise move, as for some reason, they had failed to issue the necessary letters to either myself or any of the witnesses to advise the date and request our attendance at court.
This oversight led to one witness (to whom I had no knowledge of until that point) being unable to attend court as they were on holiday.
A few weeks before the trial, the police also required me to sign a copy of my statement (as this had not been done previously) and also gave me the option to submit a victim statement as part of the proceedings which I have shared below, the next step was going to the magistrates court:
Personally, I am extremely fortunate that I came out of this incident relatively unharmed. Other than what the doctors believe was soft tissue damage to my ribs where the main impact occurred, I was on prescription strength painkillers for three weeks and the damage to my bike was thankfully minimal. Since then I have been able to resume riding, although I am slightly apprehensive when I ride across the junction where the incident occurred, which is on my commute.
Sometimes people jump red lights (this is a misconception that I hear aimed at cyclists more than the average road user). Whatever their method of transport, cases like this show the potential damage that this seemingly harmless act can cause. I feel fortunate that as a six foot plus, fifteen stone man that I was able to come out of the collision relatively unscathed, someone of a slightly different build may not have been as fortunate.
This then begs two questions which, presuming the defendant is found guilty I implore the magistrates to consider. The following are the two potential chains of events from the defendant’s perspective (as far as I can understand), both of which have been troubling me since the police first informed me of his comments after they had interviewed him that evening, these are:
He knew what he had done, but drove away when he saw me get up, presumably gambling on the fact that he had not been identified when he briefly stopped after the collision. He then continually denied that he was involved, knowing full well that he was guilty, in the hope that somehow the case would not proceed any further.
The other is that, as he informed the police on the evening of the offence, he was in the area at the time but does not recall hitting me. This concerns me greatly if true, I am not of slight build and I would think that any competent driver would realise if he had hit an object with a combined weight of over 100kg. If he genuinely did not, then I would argue that he is a clear danger to other road users and should not be allowed to hold a driver’s license.
Either way, it is unfortunate that the driver did not stop. This could have been dealt with in a civilised, grown up manner which would no doubt have been less stressful for both of us and would never have made it this far through the legal system. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he chose an act of cowardice by fleeing the scene and then continuing to deny that the collision occurred, leaving a potentially seriously injured victim in the middle of a busy junction in rush hour with an un-rideable bike.
I would consider myself a reasonable person, especially considering the general reaction of my family and friends, who probably appreciate more than I do how fortunate I was to come out of this relatively unscathed. As an active cyclist, I am all too aware of the number of cyclists who are killed in very similar circumstances on an almost daily basis and feel fortunate that I am able to provide this statement, as many victims are not as lucky.