A DRUNKEN racegoer who endangered the life of a cyclist when he pushed him off his bicycle and into the road has been freed from prison on appeal.
Antony John Venables was attending a stag party at Chester Races on July 14 last year and was drunk when he pushed Chester railway station worker Howard Donoghue over as he cycled past, causing him to fall into the path of a car which missed his head by inches.
Venables, 27, of Leek, Staffordshire, was jailed for eight months at Chester Crown Court just before Christmas after pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Mr Justice Nicol and Judge Michael Stokes, sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, today halved that term to four months, allowing Venables to walk free, his sentence served.
The court heard Mr Donoghue was only spared serious injury, or even death, by the evasive action of the motorist, who managed to swerve out of the way.
Despite causing a brush with death, Venables, laughing, took the bike and rode up and down the street on it until a passing woman intervened and made him give it back.
A passing policeman got involved and Venables tried to dodge arrest by joining the coach taking his group home at a different place to that arranged. But the vehicle was followed by the police and he was arrested.
The judge at Chester Crown Court told Venables he was passing a deterrent sentence on him to dissuade people tempted to “get drunk in the city centre and behave like you did”.
Venables’ lawyers at the appeal court argued the sentencing judge had gone too far in his wish to take a stand against drunken city centre chaos.
Mr Justice Nicol agreed the custody threshold had been passed and said Venables should have received a suspended sentence.
Venables’ sentence was halved to four months and as he had already served two months he was released immediately.