Road rage driver who attacked cyclist has ban overturned

But jail sentence for assault with steering wheel lock is upheld

A teenager who attacked a cyclist with a steering wheel lock has had a three-year driving ban overturned – so he can pursue a career as a lorry driving instructor.

Zain Cornell-Gallardo, 19, of Pettits Lane North, Romford, was jailed for 15 months and banned from driving for three years at Basildon Crown Court in September, after being convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm. Yesterday, he was back in court appealing that sentence.

Lord Justice Leveson, sitting with Mr Justice Lloyd Jones and Mr Justice King, told London's Criminal Appeal Court that it was imposed after Cornell-Gallardo attacked cyclist Dean Baldwin in March.

The judge said the incident began when Cornell-Gallardo, driving a Vauxhall Corsa, passed very close to Mr Baldwin, causing him to crash. The cyclist caught up with the car as it was stopped at traffic lights and banged on the passenger window.

Cornell-Gallardo then shouted threats at him, saying he was going to "knock him out" and hit him with a metal bar he had in the car. The court heard Mr Baldwin admitted during the trial that he then reached through the car window, pushed Cornell-Gallard's passenger and indicated he was willing to fight.

He instead got back on his bike and continued cycling, but was followed by Cornell-Gallardo on foot – who hit him on the head and arm with a steering wheel lock. The judge said Mr Baldwin's injuries could have been "much more serious" had he not been wearing a cycle helmet when he was struck.

Cornell-Gallardo's barrister, Ruwani Hewage, argued his sentence was too long, saying the crown court judge didn't take enough account of his youth or the fact it was his first offence. She also said the driving ban was "wrong in principle", because there was no link between the assault and his skills behind the wheel.

Ms Hewage said Cornell-Gallardo hoped to gain an HGV driving licence and then qualify to train lorry drivers, working for his father's business – which he would be unable to do until 2013 if the ban remained in place. 

Dismissing the appeal against the jail term, Lord Justice Leveston said 15 months was in fact lower than the sentencing guidelines suggest for a premeditated attack, where a weapon is used.

But he said the three-year ban was "unnecessary", given the fact that Mr Baldwin's injuries weren't caused by Cornell-Gallardo's bad driving but by the subsequent assault. He added: "In the circumstances, and particularly bearing in mind his anticipated future career, we quash the disqualification from driving."

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