A DRINK rider who harassed a group of motorcyclists and knocked one off his bike, causing him serious and long-term injuries, has been jailed – but escaped immediate custody.
Clifford Fix, 68, chased a motorcyclist off the road during the incident, which happened near Llanfyllin on October 10 last year.
Welshpool Magistrates’ Court heard this week that Fix mistakenly believed the group of bikers were part of a wider group that had previously harassed him and his wife.
A heartbreaking victim statement from Mr Cappelow – whom Fix had hit with his Ford Mondeo – revealed how he suffered brain swelling following the incident, as well as severe memory loss.
Fix, of Bron Haul, Bwlch-y-Ddar, near Llangedwyn, was jailed for six months by magistrates on Tuesday June 21 but they suspended the sentence for 12 months.
The accused had previously pleaded guilty to one charge of dangerous driving and another of impaired driving. The alcohol reading provided by Fix was 69 micrograms per 100 milliliters of breath – the legal limit is 35 micrograms.
Prosecutor Helen Tench said Mr Cappelow, from Stockport, and his friends toured mid and north Wales in October 2021.
“On October 10 around 2 p.m. the victim noticed a Mondeo in the middle of the road, he said it almost hit a co-worker,” Ms Tench said.
“It also almost hit him, the driver gave way less than two meters in the process, he then almost hit the others behind him. A few minutes later the car came back and hit his rear tire, he was shocked but thought it was an accident.
“He then describes the Mondeo deliberately hitting his right side, hitting his leg. He had to remove it to prevent himself from going under the car. He had to push himself out of the rearview mirror because he was afraid of getting under the steering wheel of the car.
“He was forced onto the grass embankment, eventually somersaulting over his handlebars and landing in some ferns.”
After the incident, one of the motorcyclists ended up removing the keys from the defendant, who smelled of alcohol.
When challenged, Fix referenced an incident two years prior, before telling the newly arrived officers: “I’m the culprit.”
In the victim impact statement, Mr Cappelow spoke of the “dramatic” impact the incident had had on his life.
“I thought I was going to have to fight for my life,” the father-of-three said.
“I had breathing problems when I got home. A CT scan showed cracked ribs. But the real nightmare began the next morning. I was sick. I had a week off but when I returned to work I was confused.
“My speech was scrambled, my mind was confused, I thought it was due to the drugs. I was sent to A&E as they thought I might have had a brain haemorrhage. The next day I disappeared for an entire day as I lost track of where I was when I went for a walk and have since been told I was probably suffering from brain swelling.
“I still forget things, I can’t lead a normal life. I don’t know when I will be able to get over it.
“I was advised not to drive. I had to borrow money and use my savings just to live. My wife has since lost her job because she took time off because she had to drive me to appointments and take care of our children.
Representing Fix, Sion ap Mihangel described his client as a ‘broken man’, who had fallen into a life of alcoholism following the death of his wife – who has since passed away.
“He is a man so far of good character,” Mr ap Mihangel said.
“His perception at the time was that these individuals were part of a larger group causing nuisance to him and his wife. He had confronted a group and been pushed to the ground two years earlier, that is the context.
Mr ap Mihangel described his client – a US citizen who had lived in the UK for 30 years – as a smart person who left the US to work for Motorola.
“He was married for 37 years, at a time when his wife was in the late stages of breast cancer. The night he was arrested was the night she was taken into care. She has since passed away.
“He doesn’t have much hope in life. It is a very sad situation. He is a broken individual.
“You turned around and followed the motorcyclists, showing complete disregard for other road users,” bench chairman Nerys Jones said.
“It was made worse by being under the influence of alcohol.”
For the dangerous driving, they ordered Fix to serve six months in prison, with eight weeks to concurrently serve on the drunk driving charge. This was suspended for a year.
They also banned Fix from driving for 24 months for dangerous driving, with an additional 22 months for driving while intoxicated – although that must also be served concurrently.
He must also pay an additional £128 and a fee of £85.