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A man accused of assaulting a cyclist training for the Taupo Ironman during a road rage attack admitted the incident - only to change his statement three months later, a court has heard.
The trial for Joseph Arthur Frederick Roberts, 22, began in the Rotorua District Court today.
He has pleaded not guilty to one charge of injuring Alasdair Slade with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after an incident near Taupo on February 25. Mr Slade suffered a fractured pelvis and two fractured collarbones in the alleged attack.
Roberts allegedly reacted to a hand gesture made about his driving.
Crown prosecutor Andy Hill said an overtaking manoeuvre which sparked the incident was "quite a close run thing" and there wasn't much of a gap between the cyclist and the vehicle.
He said Mr Slade pulled the fingers at the accused and yelled at him to get in to his own lane.
That angered Roberts who then did a u-turn and proceeded to pull up in front of Mr Slade twice. Mr Slade cycled around him but on the third occasion Roberts allegedly got out of his vehicle and "pushed or shoulder barged" him off his bike.
Mr Hill told the jury that Roberts had admitted the assault in a video statement to police - only to turn around three months later and "propose a theory" that there was actually a second ute and the person driving the second ute was the man responsible for assaulting Mr Slade.
Mr Hill said Roberts claimed the only reason he confessed to the assault was because police officers "put him under pressure" to confess to the assault otherwise they would charge him with growing cannabis after finding cannabis plants at the address where they found Roberts.
That, Mr Hill claimed, was completely incorrect and he said Roberts admitted the assault before police even saw the plants.
Three police officers would give evidence that no such conversation took place and was simply a "figment of the accused's imagination".
"This is a case which involves a serious incident of road rage."
In a video statement played to the jury, Roberts said when Mr Slade "gave me the fingers" it made him angry and topped off his already bad day.
"It kinda pissed me off. I didn't really want to push him over, just really wanted to scare him."
Roberts said that after he pushed Slade off his bike he said "that will teach you for giving me the f*****g fingers c***" and jumped in his truck and drove off.
He said he didn't know what his intentions were.
"When I pushed him I was pissed off but I didn't want to hurt him that bad."
Giving evidence, Mr Slade said he knew when the vehicle started following him that something was going wrong.
"I was thinking that we had a problem ... that this was not looking too good."
Mr Slade said he remembered seeing construction workers further ahead and hoped he could get to them for back up.
He said he remembered a man shoulder barging him off his bike and believed he lost consciousness for a short period of time before coming to, still attached to his bike.
The trial resumes tomorrow with more evidence from the Crown. The trial is before Judge Phillip Cooper and Ian Farquhar is appearing for the defence.
- By Rebecca Malcolm of the Rotorua Daily Post