Truck driver denies 'playing chicken'

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2013
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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A New Plymouth truck driver denies he played chicken with numerous cyclists in an organised ride around Mt Taranaki last year and says he was very careful to avoid them.

Daniel Brian Coxhead, 31, is charged with 13 counts of dangerous driving during the Around the Mountain Cycle Challenge on Saturday, January 28, 2012.

A stream of cyclists have now given evidence during the two-day defended hearing in the New Plymouth District Court.

They described their fear when Coxhead allegedly came as close as 30cm to them as he passed in a rental truck.

Others described how they saw the truck swerve towards cyclists before returning to its normal line on the road.

In the witness box yesterday, Coxhead said he recalled keeping to the right after he saw a female cyclist wobbling all over the road.

"I thought she must be exhausted and I kept to the right giving her extra room."

He agreed he tooted at a couple near the crematorium.

"I tooted to give them a warning they were moving out into the wheel line", he said.

He also said an Isuzu truck moved beside him, and he thought there was going to be a head-on.

The court has already heard from the Isuzu driver, an off duty Hawera police officer, who followed Coxhead and remonstrated with him when he stopped in Cameron St, New Plymouth.

Coxhead described the Isuzu truck driver as "aggro".

"He puffed his chest out. He was in my face trying to aggravate me."

The man said he was going to take him to the cleaners.

"He said ‘we're going to have you'."

Coxhead admitted to his lawyer, Patrick Mooney, that he "used a few choice words".

The man then pulled out his wallet ID saying he was a police officer.

Coxhead said he had told the officer that he hated cyclists who rode in the wheel track and two or three abreast and that they should keep left.

Coxhead said he told the officer that his driving was worse than his own.

"I said you better get a lawyer because I want to press charges against you for dangerous driving."

During cross-examination from prosecutor Lewis Sutton, Coxhead said he had been driving trucks for 14 years.

That day he took a day off and was helping family move from Stratford to New Plymouth.

Travelling over the Midhirst bridge he slowed down to allow two cyclists to cross.

"I gave them the whole bridge." Mr Sutton asked if Coxhead accepted he came close to the cyclists.

"Nothing closer than a metre," Coxhead replied. The cyclists who gave evidence that he came within 30cm of them and veered towards them with a clearly deliberate move, were wrong, he said.

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Coxhead was aware of the drag created when trucks passed cyclists.

"Yes, I drive trailers all the time, I know what happens."

Midhirst farm manager Gary Commerer was travelling in his Ford on the road with Coxhead to help with the shift to New Plymouth.

He said that he had no concerns about how Coxhead was overtaking the cyclists.

When they got to Cameron St, "all hell broke loose".

The Isuzu driver was "going off his trolley", saying he was going to get Coxhead.

When he said he was an off duty police officer, Coxhead told him "I don't care if you are Father Christmas." There was swearing on both sides, Mr Commerer said.

At the end of the defence case the judge reserved his decision until tomorrow.

- Taranaki Daily News

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