Michael Hanley deliberately hit Morgan Berry in his 4×4 and then punched him in face
Helen Pidd and agencies
Wed 11 Sep 2019
A man who used his 4×4 to knock down a teenage cyclist before beating him up and trashing his new bicycle during a road rage row has been jailed for six months.
The judge told Michael Hanley: ‘‘Cyclists are entitled to share the road with drivers. Whatever got you into that state is beyond me – a complete rush of blood to the head.”
The 69-year-old builder wept as he was sent to prison, having earlier been found guilty of dangerous driving and common assault following a trial. He was also banned from driving for 15 months.
He had used his Jeep Cherokee to deliberately knock 17-year-old Morgan Berry off his £2,500 mountain bike after the teenager pulled in front of him as he waited at a set of traffic lights in Bury, Greater Manchester on 15 October last year.
During the incident, Hanley was seen ‘‘bumper hugging’’ the back tyre of the bicycle after the lights turned green and he repeatedly beeped his horn at him and flashed his lights. Morgan, now 18, was eventually sent tumbling to the floor when he tried to veer off down a dirt track only for the Jeep to follow and clip his shin.
As he lay on the floor, Hanley got out of his 4×4 vehicle on the dirt track and told the shaken boy: “Little shit, you’ve done this,” adding “Did you see what he was doing? He was weaving all over the road” to a shocked motorist who pulled over. He then grabbed the teenager’s shirt and punched him in the face before smashing his own wing mirror in a temper tantrum and driving off.
He denied wrongdoing and claimed he had been subjected to malicious hate mail on social media from other cyclists since news of his conviction broke.
But, sentencing Hanley, the judge, John Edwards said: “The fact you’ve drawn attention to yourself is entirely down to your actions, your arrogance and your own stupidity. Sometimes cyclists are rightly criticised for the manner in which they conduct themselves on their bikes – but not one iota of criticism could be made of Morgan Berry in that regard.
“You are a mature man of nearly 70 and you’re old enough to know better. In the wrong hands a car is a weapon and that is how it was that afternoon. Your behaviour was boorish, highly aggressive and extremely dangerous.
“Whether Morgan Berry struck out at your vehicle is irrelevant. You’ve let yourself down. You’ve let those who look up to you and who care about you down. Your behaviour on that dirt track dispels the lie that you chased him to get his details. You knocked him off his bike and assaulted him. I bear in mind your remorse and your responsibilities, but incidents such as this can only result in immediate custody.”
Hanley’s lawyer, Stephanie Varle, said her client had type 2 diabetes and experienced a sugar low during the incident, which could make his behaviour “unpredictable”. It was a “moment of madness”, she said.
Morgan’s father, Duncan Berry, said: “It was a just sentence and sends a message out there that it’s a privilege to hold a driving licence, not a right.
“Mr Hanley could have killed Morgan – a young lad, aged 17 at the time, looking to start out in the world of work. This could’ve had far wider implications and repercussions than it has had. I hope it sends a message to the wider public that drivers and cyclists need to share the road.”