Man who hit cyclists faces house arrest
Victim says decision will send a message to aggressive drivers

Paula McCooey, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Thursday, August 10, 2006

A man who ran a group of cyclists off the road and then drove off had his driver's licence revoked and was handed a 12-month conditional sentence yesterday.

Richard Martin, 41, was convicted in April of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and leaving the scene of an accident.

Court found that Mr. Martin swerved his pickup truck into the leaders of a group of 10 cyclists from the Ottawa Bicycle Club as they rode along Riverside Drive.

One of them fell, causing a chain reaction.

Mr. Martin sped away, but another driver got his licence plate number.

"I think it is certainly a reasonable decision and one that hopefully should send a clear message that drivers better be careful and that they are not to be aggressive toward cyclists," said one of the leaders struck, Ron Amero, 61. He added that the group's members were riding two abreast as they had been instructed to by the Ontario Provincial Police.

The cyclists, including Mr. Amero and the other leader, Jess Raymond, 57, suffered various injuries, from minor cuts to broken bones.

Thousands of dollars' worth of high-end bicycles were damaged and some cyclists endured months of physiotherapy and loss of wages as a result.

In June, Crown prosecutor John Campbell suggested Mr. Martin, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, serve two years less a day.

Defence lawyer Kimberley Pegg suggested a fine and probation was appropriate because, she said, there was "no malevolence" intended by her client. Witnesses, however, said they saw Mr. Martin and his son look back seconds after the cyclists tumbled in a domino effect.

Justice Judith Beaman took into account the fact that Mr. Martin is a father with no criminal record who has not breached his bail conditions. However, she said she could not turn a blind eye to the fact he had plead not guilty and showed no remorse for his "callous" actions.

"The consequences could have been more tragic, his actions show a lack of judgment and disregard for the safety and security of the cyclists," she said.

She did, however, note that there was no alcohol involved and that Mr. Martin "did not drive complainant down and back over him again" as had happened in other similar cases.

Considering the principles of deterrence, she said "rehabilitation has no role" in his sentencing.

"'I am sorry for anything I have done to disservice the community and my family," said when asked if he would like to address the court.

Judge Beaman handed Mr. Martin a 12-month sentence to be served in the community under supervision -- eight months for dangerous driving causing bodily harm and four months for leaving the scene of an accident.

She noted the damage to the bikes of three of the victims totalled about $6,000, which he will have to pay.

He is required to stay at home except to go to court, medical appointments and work, and for three hours a week when he can leave to do errands.

The judge also imposed a one-year driving suspension and 12 months of probation, and ordered Mr. Martin to do 120 hours of community service.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2006