Road rage farmer who hit Ironman cyclist jailed

By Dana Kinita -
Joseph Roberts, 22, was jailed for a road rage incident seriously injuring a former New Zealand triathlete. Photo/Ben Fraser.
Joseph Roberts, 22, was jailed for a road rage incident seriously injuring a former New Zealand triathlete. Photo/Ben Fraser.

A Mangakino farmer has been jailed after a road rage incident which seriously injured an Ironman cyclist.

Joseph Arthur Frederick Roberts, 22, was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court yesterday to two years and eight months' prison after he was found guilty last month of injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to cyclist Alasdair Slade, who was training for the Ironman New Zealand in Taupo.

On February 25, Mr Slade was cycling on Broadlands Rd in Reporoa when a vehicle came close to hitting him. Mr Slade made a two-fingered gesture at Roberts and yelled at him to get into his own lane.

According to the police summary of facts, that angered Roberts who did a U-turn and pulled up in front of Mr Slade twice. Mr Slade cycled around him but on the third occasion Roberts got out of his vehicle and "pushed or shoulder barged" him off his bike. Roberts then fled the scene.

The court heard Mr Slade suffered a shattered hip and needed reconstructive surgery for his collarbone and right shoulder. He still had difficulty performing simple tasks and would continue to suffer "life-long effects".

Roberts' sister Irene Richards told the court the family did not condone her brother's actions.

"We want to acknowledge the hurt and suffering of the victim and his family and offer our sincere apologies," Ms Richards said. "We don't understand how this occurred but ultimately as a family we shoulder the blame. We are terribly sorry and offer our deepest apologies."

Ms Richards made a plea to grant her brother home detention as their mother needed him on the farm. A letter of apology was written by Roberts to Mr Slade but Judge Phillip Cooper said it could not be taken as genuine remorse.

Outside court, Mr Slade told the Rotorua Daily Post he was satisfied with the sentence. He accepted reparation and an another apology from a family member of Roberts.

He had previously refused reparation of more than $2000 as it was "too little, too late".

"I'm unable to train to the level I was once able to ... it's gutting, I've represented New Zealand in triathlon," the father-of-five said.

"To my fellow athletes let this be a warning to be careful out there, there are a lot of drivers who think cyclists are an inconvenience on the roads."

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