25th November 2010
Mr Arwell Jones
The District Crown Prosecutor
WEST LONDON PROSECUTION SERVICE
3rd Floor, King’s House, Kymberley Road, Harrow HA1 1YH
DX 4204 Harrow 1
Dear Mr Jones,
Threat to kill, Hounslow 04.11.10
On 4th November I reported a crime committed earlier that day on the A315 just West of Houslow, when a motorist drew alongside me and threatened to kill me. His admission soon afterwards that he had threatened to kill me is clearly recorded on a video camera as are the words ‘you are a cocky cunt’. The film footage can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nv8w5-cOmCs
My understanding is that the police officer assigned to investigate this case considered issuing a fixed penalty notice to the suspect for a breach of section 5 of the Public Order Act and took advice from the CPS at Hounslow. The officer was apparently then advised by Manjit Mahal that there was insufficient evidence ‘to pass the threshold test’ and that no action should be taken.
I e mailed Mr Mahal on the same day this decision was communicated to me, 11th November. For your convenience I set out a copy of my email.
“Dear Mr Mahal,
I refer to your decision that there is not sufficient evidence of a crime (specifically use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby, contrary to section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986) to give rise to a reasonable prospect of a conviction. I take it that you have decided this on the basis of the evidential test.
The evidential test should only be applied when all the available evidence has been reviewed and this includes an assessment of any Defence that might be put forward. If the allegation is put to the motorist and he admits making a threat to kill; then it seems to me incomprehensible that any potential prosecution would fail a merits test. If on the other hand he denies making a threat to kill (or exercises his right to silence), there is still my evidence that he made such a threat coupled with a repetition by me of what he said on a tape (which is equivalent to a contemporaneous note) and a further requirement to explain why he would have admitted threatening to kill me if he had not actually done so. At the very least the video evidence I have supplied you with provides strong corroborative evidence of my account which gives rise to at least a 50% prospect of conviction.
I have already informed the police that I retain the original and complete film recorded onto a mini SD card and I can think of no possible informed basis upon which anybody could doubt the admissibility of that evidence. Indeed a forensic analysis of the file may confirm my account of the actual words spoken by the motorist as he drew alongside me.
You are also bound to bear in mind that that threat from a car driver immediately alongside me is equivalent to making a threat with a loaded gun. All he need do to actually kill or maim me was to steer even further over to his left. This is an offence which should be taken seriously.
If it comes to a consideration of the public interest, you will no doubt bear in mind that cyclists are extremely vulnerable to harm inflicted intentionally or carelessly by motorists. There is a widespread perception that cyclists are often not enjoying the protection of the law to which they are entitled. Threats and abuse against cyclists is unfortunately widespread especially in the outer London boroughs and the main problem is (usually, though not in this case) securing sufficient evidence to take action against the minority of motorists who are determined to persecute cyclists.
I invite you to reconsider this decision and to refer it to a Senior Crown Prosecutor.
Unfortunately two weeks later I have not had the courtesy even of an acknowledgment of this e-mail.
The only sensible inference that can be drawn from this failure to prosecute where the evidence is so overwhelming, and no sensible justification is put forward for failing to do so, is that crime committed against cyclists by motorists is not treated seriously. I do urge you please to investigate this and to review the decision not to charge this individual. If you are unable or unwilling to do this, please treat this letter as a formal complaint and accord me the courtesy of a reasoned explanation for the decision.