Watford councillor gives evidence for taxi driver charged with knocking cyclist off bike

A taxi driver has been found not guilty of careless driving after he was alleged to have knocked a cyclist off his bike by turning into St Albans Road without looking.

Private hire driver Sajid Mehmood, 34, of Whippendell Road, Watford, was acquitted at Hemel Hempstead Magistrates' Court yesterday after being cleared of driving into James Sterling's bike during rush hour on Friday, May 1.

Computer engineer James Sterling was cycling home from work to St Albans along St Albans Road, Watford, when he was hit by taxi driver Mehmood, as he pulled his cab out of Ridge Street to turn right, he said.

Mr Sterling said: “I was going down the road and I could see a car had pulled out of Ridge Street just slightly.

“I slowed down a little to make sure the driver had seen me.

“He was looking left and not right, at me, so I slowed and was looking for a gap to get through the traffic.

“I watched him as I drove in front of him and he was still looking left.

“At the point of going past him he was still looking to the left and all I remember is hearing a bang.”

Mr Sterling said the wheel of the taxi brushed the pedal of his £800 mountain bike, knocking him from the saddle and into the back of a vehicle face first, causing numerous cuts and bruises to his body.

Mr Sterling said: “I remember standing up and being very angry because he was not paying attention.

“But people made me sit down and relax because I was injured.”

The bike was a write off and paramedics advised Mr Sterling to go to hospital to receive treatment for his injuries, but he declined.

During cross examination Matthew Nash, defending the taxi driver, put it to Mr Sterling he was in the wrong.

Mr Nash said: “You were undertaking and the fact of the matter is you were cycling, I would say illegally, or at least contrary to the Highway Code in a rush to get home.”

Mr Sterling replied: “I was quite relaxed actually. It was quite a nice sunny day.”

Jan Muller, prosecuting, however produced a copy of the code which contradicted Mr Nash's claims.

Witness Jonathan Sorley was in a car in a line of traffic as Mr Sterling cycled past.

Mr Sorley told the court after seeing the crash he ran to the scene of the accident and found Mr Sterling getting up in front of the white-coloured Peugeot taxi.

He said: “After I realised the cyclist was alright I asked for the taxi driver's details, to help the cyclist out, but he refused saying it was not his fault.

“That's when I phoned the police.”

Mehmood, a 34-year-old Costco employee told the court he works part time as a taxi driver and has held a driving licence for four years.

He said after waiting at traffic lights Mr Sterling came cycling past him, lost control and hit a black Vauxhall in the road, without making contact with the taxi.

Mehmood said: “A bike came through St Albans Road. He didn't stop and lost control of his bike and hit the back of a Vauxhall and damaged its back light and he fell on the floor.

“I was not over the white line and he did not touch the car in any way.”

During cross examination Jan Muller, prosecuting, put it to Mehmood he told police “he hit my car that's it” and that Mr Sorely heard him say “I did not see him”.

The defendant denied both points saying his English is not that good.

Watford Borough Councillor Mohammed Riaz was called by the defence.

He said he was in a blue Peugeot 106 behind the taxi when the collision occurred and had attended as a witness after the defendant turned up at his house a month ago.

Mr Riaz said he did not know the defendant and had been unwilling to attend court for such a “minor” event, but said he: “saw what I saw”.

Mr Riaz said: “I was behind him and waiting to turn right.

“He had his brake lights on and was not over the white line.

“I saw a cyclist coming from the right and he lost his balance and went straight into the back of the car parked in St Albans Road.”

During cross examination Miss Muller said to Mr Riaz: “If you say this matter is so minor, such a non-event how can you remember all this?

“You can remember an incident that is so unexciting five months ago.

“You can remember that he was parked just behind the white line, and the brake lights were on.”

Mr Riaz said he recalled the incident but admitted he had not seen the collision, but had heard the “crash”.

Mehmood was found not guilty after a three-hour trial yesterday afternoon.

Chairman of the bench Doreen Clapper said: “We have sufficient doubt in our mind that your driving standard did not fall below that of a reasonable driver and therefore find you not guilty.”

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