A CYCLIST and a BMW driver got into an altercation near North Gate Bridge as the cyclist blamed the motorist for dangerous driving and assault and the driver claimed the cyclist spat at him and banged his wing mirror violently.
The only person on trial at Cork District Court in relation to the disputed matter was motorist, Colin Kelly, aged 32, of 201 River Towers, Lee Road, who denied the single charge of assaulting Michael Gaffney, aged 56, of Montenotte.
At the end of the evidence Judge Con O’Leary concluded that Mr Kelly did assault Mr Gaffney but he commented that Mr Gaffney provoked Mr Kelly.
The judge gave Colin Kelly the benefit of a dismissal under the Probation of Offenders Act.
Cyclist Michael Gaffney said, “The car almost brushed against me and came straight in front of me. I almost lost control of the bike. I approached the car to alert him to the dangerous driving. I could have come off the bike with catastrophic consequences.”
Later he said the driver got out of his car and he (Mr Gaffney) felt a large force on his right shoulder. He said he could not put his feet on the ground because they were in the cleats on the pedals and he fell to the ground cutting his knee and head.
“The assailant got back into his car. I managed to un-cleat myself from the bike. I fell on the bonnet of the car. I was quite dazed,” he said.
Colin Kelly denied this version of events.
Mr Kelly told his solicitor, Diane Hallahan, the cyclist spat on his shoulder through the open sunroof and also banged the wing mirror three times and tried to pull it backwards.
He said he did not assault Mr Gaffney but held him to prevent him leaving the scene after allegedly damaging his car. He said Mr Gaffney shook himself free and fell. He said Mr Gaffney then ran towards the car and jumped on the bonnet.
Mr Kelly said of Mr Gaffney, “His demeanour was so over-exaggerated I thought this fellow was after me for a claim.”
Taxi driver Derek O’Keeffe caught some of the incident on his dash-cam and also gave evidence of seeing the BMW manoeuvre to avoid the bicycle “to protect the bike because it was on a collision course with the BMW.”
Mr O’Keeffe testified, “The man on the bike violently – in my opinion – started banging on the car window. The bike started moving forward. The man in the blue BMW made his way towards the bicycle. I cannot say 100 per cent was he trying to hold him or push him.
"What I can say is that after the gentleman came back to (his) car the gentleman on the bike threw himself on the bonnet and started pounding the bonnet with both hands.”
Explaining the movement forward of the car and the angle of the car at the scene, Mr Kelly said he accidentally angled it and accidentally drove the car forward instead of back but the judge said that two mistakes “sounds a bit far-fetched.”
Judge O’Leary said Colin Kelly’s actions towards Mr Gaffney were “understandable but not excusable.”
At the close of the prosecution evidence, the judge said of Mr Gaffney’s evidence, “His credibility is at quite a low point at this stage.”