A motorist admitted assaulting a cyclist by pulling off his backpack but the driver said he was responding to the cyclist holding up the middle finger to him.
Judge Con O’Leary said: “We all have people treating us rudely on the roads but we don’t go and pull them off their bikes.”
Timmy Long of 21 Churchfield Green, Churchfield, Cork, pleaded guilty to assaulting Steffan Liebig on May 8, 2018 at Hollyhill Lane.
Judge O’Leary said the motorist could do 200 hours of community service instead of four months in prison and he also directed him to pay the injured party €500 compensation.
Inspector Noel Madden said Mr Liebig was cycling to work in Apple via Strawberry Hill when he noticed a car very close behind him and he felt intimidated by the manner of the driving.
The car continued behind him to Hollyhill Lane and passed him when the road got wider. At that stage there was a verbal exchange between the cyclist and the driver.
The car stopped up ahead and the driver got out and tried to grab Mr Liebig as he cycled past. The cyclist’s backpack was pulled off him.
Timmy Long, aged 42, said he only got out of his car to check it as he believed it had been damaged by the cyclist.
He admitted trying to stop the cyclist but denied trying to pull him off the bike or trying to assault him. He admitted grabbing the cyclist’s bag but said that it came away in his hand.
Clarifying if he had been pulled from the bike or not, Judge O’Leary asked the injured party to return to the witness box. Mr Liebig said he had not been knocked off the bicycle but had struggled to stay on it as his backpack was pulled off him.
Graham Hyde, solicitor, said he was not making excuses for what happened. He said Timmy Long was pleading guilty and was apologising for what he did.
However, he said that, by way of background, he wanted to explain that the motorist felt that the bicycle connected with the car and he called after the cyclist to stop without any intention of assaulting him.
“When he was shown the middle finger he found that was a sign of disrespect,” Mr Hyde said.
The injured party feared he was going to be severely injured and felt intimidated by the aggression of the defendant on the morning. The incident happened at around 9.30am.
Inspector Madden said Long had previous convictions including two for assault and six for assault causing harm.
Mr Hyde said many of these offences were historical and that Sergeant Robbie Stone would confirm that the change in the defendant’s behaviour from when he was getting into trouble years ago to the present was miraculous. He said the accused was working hard and studying also.
“But he is not trying to make excuses. He is holding his hands up. It was a momentary lapse and he does apologise to Mr Liebig,” Mr Hyde said.