A television producer has been cleared of deliberately causing a car to crash into the back of his bike in a case described as “unique and bizarre” by his celebrity lawyer.
Prosecutors claimed the cyclist had “hurled abuse” at driver Derek Pipe, 74, and deliberately blocked his path after their vehicles came into close proximity on the narrow residential road.
But magistrates at Bexley Magistrates’ Court acquitted him of one count of riding “without due care and attention” after a summary trial on Thursday.
Mr Crompton, who has produced award-winning shows including Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau, said he had tried to warn the driver of his presence but Mr Pipe had failed to notice him on the road.
Giving evidence, Mr Pipe claimed Mr Crompton clipped his wing mirror as he “raced” up the hill, cycling past him and shouting swear words from in front of his vehicle.
“The cyclist came up the outside of me and then put his bike across the front of my car towards the windscreen and started hurling abuse, shouting, going off in a very intimidating, aggressive manner,” he said.
The motorist, who has no points on his licence and has been driving for decades, said he had then started moving again at under five miles per hour behind the cyclist before Mr Crompton twice came to a halt.
“I was just proceeding safely behind him then all of a sudden he stopped again a second time,” he told the court.
A complete waste of people's time, trouble and money. This has taken up three hours of time. It's cost the taxpayer probably thousands of pounds.
“The distance we both travelled was so short it was impossible for me to hit the brake in time.”
But the cyclist said it was the driver who had put him in danger by forcing him into a tight spot in between the Ford Focus and a row of parked cars.
He told the court he had knocked once on Mr Pipe’s window to alert the driver that he was at risk of becoming “sandwiched in”, but the driver seemed unaware.
The collision caused Mr Crompton to suffer soft tissue damage as well as leaving a “terrible V” dent in the back wheel of his bike, the court heard.
“I wanted to warn him that he’d done a dangerous manoeuvre and I would hope that a warning would mean he would think about it next time,” he said.
“I knocked on his window and shouted ‘Didn’t you see me?’ very loudly.”
The married father-of-two said he then cycled up in front of the car without stopping before being “catapulted” forward across the handlebars when the motorist crashed into his rear wheel.
Mr Crompton, from Lewisham, described the allegations against him as “insane”, adding: “He (Mr Pipe) had no idea I was there.”
He added that he only became angry after the collision, at which point Mr Pipe also appeared to be “in a rage”, according to the cyclist.
Prosecutor Norleen Ibe said the driver had given “credible and consistent” evidence, but Mr Freeman said the account had been “littered with confusion”.
The prosecution has not proven the case so that we are sure beyond reasonable doubt. We therefore find Mr Crompton not guilty
Chair of the bench Christina Pride
The defence solicitor added that even if Mr Crompton had stopped suddenly, the driver would have breached the Highway Code by failing to ensure “sufficient distance” between himself and the bike ahead.
He said the allegation that the cyclist had intended to cause the crash was “ludicrous”, leading to “this rather unique and bizarre situation Mr Crompton finds himself in accused of riding without due care and attention”.
Mr Crompton was due to fly to Italy the following day to oversee a £35,000 shoot for a documentary and had no reason to pursue a “kamikaze course” that would have endangered himself and the driver, he said.
Chair of the bench Christina Pride said: “We’ve heard two differing accounts of the incident.”
“The prosecution has not proven the case so that we are sure beyond reasonable doubt. We therefore find Mr Crompton not guilty,” she added.
Speaking outside court after he was cleared, Mr Crompton told the PA news agency he was “utterly, utterly relieved”.
“Although it sounds farcical you still question which way they will go because it’s one person’s word against another.
Mr Freeman, who has previously been dubbed “Mr Loophole”, said: “The whole case has been bizarre.
“A complete waste of people’s time, trouble and money. This has taken up three hours of time. It’s cost the taxpayer probably thousands of pounds.”
He added: “Mr Crompton will now be commencing civil proceedings against Mr Pipe.”
The Crown Prosecution Service has been contacted for comment.