Michael Stewart at Court yesterday. Picture from Manchester Evening News
Michael Stewart was convicted and sentenced yesterday at Manchester Magistrates' Court of driving without due care and attention and for common assault. He had pleaded guilty to both offences. He was acquitted of the charge of dangerous driving. After driving close to a cyclist, Neil Chatterjee, Stewart got out of his BMW car and grabbed Mr Chatterjee by the throat. The Magistrate accepted as beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Chatterjee's account of the assault was correct and that Mr Stewart's (that he had only grabbed his clothing) was false.
Sentencing Stewart, the Court described the attack as reprehensible, serious and road rage. The Manchester Evening News reports that Stewart was ordered to pay a £200 fine and £200 court costs. His licence was endorsed with five penalty points. He was also given a six-week community order with a four-week evening curfew.
Stewart admitted the assault and there is no report of any previous convictions. Accordingly had these events occurred in the Thames Valley Police area he would have been given a caution as a matter of course. Fortunately the Manchester Police and CPS are made of sterner stuff and deserve full credit for bringing this before a Court. Equally it is incredibly rare for a prosecution to arise from passing close to a cyclist without actually knocking him off. Police forces everywhere will hopefully note this result. The Manchester CPS were not afraid of erring on the side of the victim; the fact that Stewert was acquitted of dangerous driving does not mean that the decision to puruse the charge was incorrect.