A self-employed builder from Ripon who tossed a glass jug onto the Tour de France route minutes before the peloton sped through the city has been fined £1,000.
When Michael Lee Simms, 26, appeared before Harrogate magistrates to plead guilty to causing danger to road users, court chairman Catherine Nickols told him: “This was a reckless act at an international event which could have had a devastating effect on the Tour de France. You caused distress and embarrassment to people.”
Prosecutor Katie Varlow said minutes before cyclists were due to pass Simms’s home in Tower Court on Palace Road on the Tour’s first stage from Leeds-Harrogate on Saturday, July 5, Simms, his girlfriend, mother and neighbours had been among those standing outside.
He had his back to the road and was seen to toss a glass jug over his shoulder into the carriageway where it shattered. Mrs Varlow said the act, which came shortly after a loudspeaker had announced the imminent arrival of cyclists, was witnessed by a large number of people, some of whom dashed into the road in a bid to clear the debris away.
Although most of the glass was swept away, small shards had still been visible as the peloton rode through causing distress to those who had seen what had happened.
Some spectators made their way to nearby police officers and gave them a description of Simms who, when arrested, was found to be drunk.
Mrs Varlow told the court: “Fortunately there was no bad outcome though more by luck than judgement.”
In mitigation, defence solicitor Geoffrey Rogers said Simms, who ran his own building company and had no previous convictions, lived directly alongside the Tour route.
He said the defendant had some difficulty in deciding whether or not to plead guilty as he had no recollection of committing the offence but having read the evidence decided he must have been the one who threw the jug. “But to this day he can’t recall the offence,” said Mr Rogers.
The defence solicitor said Simms had been “celebrating” the Tour, initially at home with friends and then at a neighbour’s home. He could only put his glass-throwing down to a prank in front of friends. “Had he not been drinking he would have thought better of it. Stone cold sober he would not have acted in this way,” said Mr Rogers, who said Simms’s behaviour had been out of character and that the builder wanted to apologise for it.
In addition to the fine he was ordered to pay £85 costs and a £100 victim surcharge.