Cyclists tell of trucker 'playing chicken'

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2013
Daniel Coxhead
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ
DENIES GUILT: Daniel Coxhead outside the New Plymouth District Court after denying he played chicken with cyclists during an around the mountain cycle event last year.

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Some cyclists are unlikely to take to Taranaki's open roads again after a "nightmare" encounter with a truck driver who allegedly played chicken with them during an organised event.

Some of them related their encounters with Daniel Brian Coxhead during the 2012 Around the Mountain Challenge during the first day of his defended hearing in the New Plymouth District Court before Judge Peter Butler.

The 31-year-old has denied 13 counts of dangerous driving during the popular January 28 event and says he never got within a metre of any of the riders.

But that's at odds with what the cyclists claim and some said Coxhead either drove within centimetres of them or intentionally swerved at them.

Supporting evidence came from off-duty Hawera constable Dennis Gibbon and his wife who had followed Coxhead from Stratford noting his every move.

Mr Gibbon's wife, Stacy Paton, said Coxhead did not move to the centre of the road or use passing lanes to ensure cyclist safety as other motorists did.

"He was too close and wasn't moving out. Sometimes the truck would veer off to the left."

Cyclists shook their fists at Coxhead and Ms Paton could see the shock on their faces.

She saw "sheer terror" on one man's face and one girl had a close call with one hand on her waterbottle and the other on the handlebars when Coxhead passed.

"I don't think she'll ever ride again . . . just that look."

The pair followed the truck to New Plymouth's Cameron St and pulled up behind it.

Mr Gibbon remonstrated with Coxhead and when things got heated Ms Paton wrote down what he said.

Coxhead had said he was a professional driver and believed "f...... cyclists" should stay off the road. When her husband showed him proof he was a police officer, Coxhead had said he "hated pigs more than cyclists".

Peter Bruce Churchman, a Wellington barrister, was one of the competitors and told the court he still had nightmares after his worst experience on the road in 10 years.

He rode to the left of the fog line between Stratford and Inglewood when the truck came within centimetres of him and he feared he would get sucked in to the truck's draught.

"I pedalled for all I was worth."

"To my horror, 80 metres down the road I again watched the line he was taking." He said Coxhead made a deliberate move to the left towards another group of cyclists, then after passing them, moved back out into the road.

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"It was obvious to me it was deliberate. I was astonished. It was absolutely stupid behaviour."

Coxhead's lawyer Patrick Mooney said the truck did not physically touch Mr Churchman.

"No, if it did I would be dead," Mr Churchman replied.

Mr Mooney said his client would give evidence that he never got closer than one metre to any of the cyclists.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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