A cyclist who slashed almost 2,000 car tyres in a 10-day spate of revenge attacks on "inconsiderate motorists" was jailed for 16 months yesterday. Ashley Carpenter, 37, targeted the tyres of 548 cars, lorries and vans parked in Christchurch and Bournemouth, causing damage worth £250,000.
He launched his one-man campaign after a car nearly knocked him off his bike and another drenched him by driving through a puddle, Bourne-mouth Crown Court heard.
Carpenter, of Walpole Road, Boscombe, in Dorset, left his home on his bicycle at night in December, 2003, armed with a sharpened screwdriver and randomly punctured 1,728 tyres as a warning to drivers.
Recorder Stephen Lennard said the five weeks Carpenter had already spent in jail would be taken into account so he would serve half the sentence and be released on licence.
Mr Lennard said the damage had cost £97,000 in tyre repairs alone, not taking into account hotel bills and alternative methods of transport needed by the victims of the crimes.
Carpenter, who is unemployed, had admitted eight charges of criminal damage asked for 540 other offences, to 497 vehicles in Bournemouth and 43 vehicles in Christchurch, to be taken into consideration.
He was arrested in January after police analysed footage from CCTV and found a sharpened screwdriver in his flat.
Robert Grey, defending, had described Carpenter as "very much a loner" and "socially inadequate". He said Carpenter lived alone, had no children, no relationship and no close friends. "He had not been able to discuss his frustration with others. He perceived a number of incidents of inconsiderate driving by motorists towards him. He says that twice he was nearly knocked off his bike by motorists and on another occasion he was subjected to verbal abuse by passing drivers.
"Things built up and came to a head when he lost control."
Rebecca Reef, a spokeswoman for the AA, said outside court that pedestrians have legal protection against inconsiderate drivers and did not need to resort to criminal damage to "get even". She added: "Had Mr Carpenter gone to the police after he was splashed, the driver could have been fined £2,500 and received up to nine penalty points for driving without due care and attention.
"If a driver ignores a cyclist and causes them to fall off or be injured, if they drive in a manner which causes that, they can get a £5,000 fine and five to 10 points on their licence."
The pedestrian or cyclist would need witnesses or CCTV footage to back the claim, she said. Vehicle owners were also obliged to declare who was driving at the time of any alleged incident. "This serves as a helping hand to cyclists and as a warning to drivers who think it's a laugh to go through puddles that they are actually risking a fine."
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: "We all work and live in the community and we shared the feelings of worry and concern as more cars were damaged night after night."
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