Cork van driver escapes conviction for threatening behaviour in row over cycle lane

Cork van driver escapes conviction for threatening behaviour in row over cycle lane
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A CYCLIST rights activist approached a van driver in a cycle lane and told him he should not be parked there and it was alleged that the driver reacted by getting out of his van holding an axe.

Defence solicitor, Frank Buttimer, stressed that 55-year-old James Long, of Ballinluska, Crosshaven, County Cork, who was never in any kind of trouble in his life, was not prosecuted for anything in relation to an axe and that the only charge against him was one of engaging in threatening, insulting or abusive words or behaviour.

Judge Olann Kelleher said at Cork District Court that the defendant should make a €400 contribution to Cork Simon Community and write a letter of apology to the cyclist.

The judge said that a fulsome letter of contrition should be written and that he would leave the defendant without a conviction. He gave him the benefit of a dismissal under the Probation of Offenders Act because the public order charge was a first offence.

Sergeant Gearóid Davis a 21-year-old student was pushing his bicycle along and approached the van driver, tapped on his window and said he should move his vehicle telling him that he was blocking the cycle lane.

Sgt. Davis said the motorist had a dismissive attitude to the cyclist.

James Long then got out of his van, went to the back of the van, and then held an axe in his hand and shouted at the cyclist, Sgt. Davis said.

The student told the defendant he was recording the incident with a camera on his handlebars and the driver then jumped into his van and drove off.

Mr Buttimer said this was a verbal altercation only. Judge Kelleher remarked, “Except he took an axe out and produced it to the cyclist.” The solicitor said the defendant had the axe in his van in the context of his work as a carpenter and that he was only charged in relation to his “words or behaviour.” 

Mr Buttimer said, “He has reached 55 and never got into trouble and it is never going to happen to him again at this hour of his life. He has been very concerned about this matter. We have spoken to him about it three or four times.”

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