A 22-year-old woman who posted about “bloody cyclists” on Twitter hours after knocking a cyclist off his bike has been convicted of failing to stop and failing to report an accident, but cleared of driving without due care and attention at Norfolk Magistrates Court today.
Cyclist Toby Hockley sustained minor injuries when Emma Way’s car clipped him on a narrow country lane in Norfolk on 19 May.
Later than day Miss Way, of Watton Norfolk tweeted: “Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have right of way - he doesn't even pay road tax!”
Miss Way was forced to defend herself on BBC Radio and national television after a public outcry at the comments, but a Norwich magistrates convicted her of failing to stop after an accident and failing to report it, which she denied.
She was fined £300, had to pay £337 in costs had 7 points added to her licence, but was found not guilty of the more serious charge of driving without due care and attention.
According to Mr Hockley, he was nearing the end of the Boudicca Sportive 100-mile ride when a car came towards him at speed on the wrong side of a narrow country lane. The 29-year-old chef, told the court that he “was hit on the leg by the wing and on the arm by the wing mirror” and was “knocked into a hedge”.
Miss Way claimed the collision was Mr Hockley’s fault and that she has been driving at 15mph close to the nearside kerb: "Afterwards I looked in my mirror," she said. "I did not think he was injured - if I did I would definitely have stopped."
Asked by defence counsel during today’s court hearing to rate the stupidity of her tweet on a scale of 1-10 Miss Way replied, “I'd score it at 11”. She added that her tweet was “the biggest regret” of her life.
Describing the trial as a relatively routine case of driving without due care and attention, prosecutor Stephen Poole added: "Why it becomes notorious is because the suspect went home and tweeted.
"It was that tweet which has put this into the public arena."
Rhia Weston of the CTC cycling charity, said, “The only reason Emma Way was caught was because she tweeted about the incident, many other hit and runs end in no prosecution because police fail to trace the driver. Evidence collection needs to be much more robust if hit and run drivers are to be caught, prosecuted and convicted.
Cycling campaigner Carlton Reid dismissed light sentence. He told The Independent: “A six month driving ban should have been bare minimum. Road justice? Pah!”
He added: “She [Miss Way] told the magistrates her original tweet was “the biggest regret of my life so far.” So, no regrets about hitting the cyclist, just getting caught admitting she had hit the cyclist.”
Leaving court today Miss Way refused to speak to reporters citing “an exclusive TV deal”. A spokesman for ITV confirmed that Miss Way would be appearing on Daybreak on Wednesday morning, but refused to confirm if the former trainee accountant, who lost her job as a result of the incident, would be paid for her appearance: “We would never discuss fees.”