Thursday 25 November 2010

Threat to kill: letter to CPS District Crown Prosecutor

25th November 2010

Mr Arwell Jones
The District Crown Prosecutor
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

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.

Yours faithfully,

Martin Porter”

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.

Yours sincerely,

Martin Porter


  1. Great letter and email and I look forward to hearing the update in due course. Having just last night suffered unprovoked verbal abuse from a passenger in a passing car it is so important that this kind of unacceptable behaviour is dealt with according to the law otherwise the impression is that it's okay and the repition and escalation is inevitable.

  2. Well done. I look forward to the next installment

  3. Keep up the good work and I hope you get them to reply and reconsider!

  4. Tweeted David Harmon of Eurosport to read your blog, he is @spokesmen and it would be great if he brings this up in his commentary on friday !
    Civil servants deserve praise for ACTION ! But where is it here? Sounds like this guy is being paid by the public purse and considers himself aloof to actually doing ANY work !

    Publicity in the media is neede and Eurosport can reach a larger section of the public than any of our blogs.
    Telling a motorist to look at "youtube" is also a waste of time ! Being required to sit in the autitorium with others looking on MAY get the attention of the miscreant.
    Have cycled the A4 towards hounslow during AM rush hour whilst in the UK and remember meeting some commuting cyclists which was not too challenging a task that day but generally prefer the continental roads. Have had occasion to chase down drivers particularly Taxis and tell them that they are not as invunerable as they like to think from Police attention. Being caught by a 65yo on a push bike puts them back in the real world !

  5. My suspicion is that the issue at the heart, whether or not to prosecute, is one beset by incompetence. This does not detract from your overall thrust of argument, but means that this is more cock up than conspiracy.

    My own recent experience (OK, 3 years ago but only just now settled) happened when I was marshalling on a group ride. After being stopped in front of a PSV while the ride went by, I narrowly escaped being mashed when the driver decided it was time to go, in fact I was on the bike as the rear wheel was run over.

    There were many independent witnesses, all of whom substantiated the view that it was the driver's fault. I was dumbfounded when the police decided not to prosecute because "of conflicting evidence". Apparently there was a passenger on the bus who had a video which showed that far from being stationary in front, I had actually shot a red light and tried to dash in front, but failed.

    When I finally got to see the video it showed 1) that the video evidence contradicted what the witness said 2) that from the position the video was taken the witness could not have seen what they said they had 3) that the driver started moving when the light in front of him was red. You really didn't need to be Sherlock Holmes.