A LAUGHING van driver who deliberately drove at a group of cyclists to frighten and intimidate them has been jailed.
A court heard how it had a domino effect within the group of 20 Cheshire cyclists, with many of them falling off their bikes.
But Joel Reece Morris, a cockler, swerved away from them at the last minute.
He stopped further down the road and as some of the cyclists rode towards him to get his registration number he reversed with his tyres screeching and made a rude gesture.
Morris, 25, of Mold Road, Connah’s Quay, was jailed for six months, banned from driving for six months and ordered to take an extended driving test.
Judge Niclas Parry warned that every driver had a duty to respect the safety of vulnerable cyclists on the roads.
Mr Parry, sitting at Mold Crown Court, told Morris: “This was an inexplicable piece of dangerous driving.
“For some reason, known only to you, you decided to goad and more seriously intimidate a group of cyclists doing no more than what has become a very common, enjoyable and worthwhile pastime of riding in a group on a Sunday morning.
“For fun, you deliberately drove at them to alarm them and to make them lose control.
“You drove intentionally at that group.”
More than one witness had described him laughing as he did so.
One cyclist had told how he appeared to be doing it “for a laugh”.
Cyclists in the group were forced to take evasive action, collided with each other, fell off, suffered minor injuries and their bikes were damaged.
Morris then stopped and reversed, swore and made abusive gestures.
There were no serious injuries but that was only because of the alertness of the cyclists, Mr Parry said.
He said that there had been a number of cycling accidents nationwide which had sadly resulted in serious injuries or death.
“There is a duty on every motorist to respect the safety of cyclists,” he said.
A clear message had to be sent out that such behaviour would lead to custody.
Prosecutor David Mainstone said that at 10.45am on Sunday, November 17, a group of 20 cyclists from Ellesmere Port were riding two abreast along the B5125 road at Northop Hall on Deeside.
A white Ford Transit van approached them, drove onto the wrong side of the road and swerved back to its correct side just before hitting any of them.
But the cyclists thought they were going to be hit, braked and a number fell off in a domino effect.
At a previous hearing at the magistrates’ court Morris denied deliberately driving at the cyclists and said that he had swerved to avoid something in the road.
But at the crown court yesterday he accepted the prosecution case in full.
Mr Mainstone said that a female cyclist at the head of the group swerved to the left and told how she would have been hit if she had fallen to her right.
Morris had two previous convictions for drink driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
Jayne La Grua, defending, said that Morris accepted the prosecution case and appreciated the seriousness of what he had done.
He had sought the help of a driving instructor with his impulsive actions behind the wheel.
The loss of his driving licence meant the loss of his job, she said.
“This was a phenomenally stupid and dangerous thing to do,” she said.