Romford teenager’s driving ban lifted so he can become a driving instructor

A ROMFORD teenager who attacked a cyclist with a steering wheel lock after a road rage incident has had a three-year driving ban overturned on appeal - so he can pursue a career as an HGV driving instructor.

Zain Cornell-Gallardo, 19, of Pettits Lane North, was jailed for 15 months and banned from driving for three years at Basildon Crown Court in September, after being convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm.

Judges at London’s Criminal Appeal Court today dismissed a challenge to that sentence, saying it was “not even arguably excessive”.

But, after hearing he wishes to follow his father into the family business and train lorry drivers, the judges overturned his driving ban.

Lord Justice Leveson, sitting with Mr Justice Lloyd Jones and Mr Justice King, told the court Cornell-Gallardo attacked cyclist Dean Baldwin in March.

The judge said Mr Baldwin was cycling along a road when Cornell-Gallardo, driving a Vauxhall Corsa, passed very close to him - knocking him off his bike.

Annoyed the car had almost hit him, the cyclist caught up with the car as it was stopped at traffic lights and banged on the passenger window.

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Cornell-Gallardo shouted threats at the Mr Baldwin, saying he was going to “knock him out” and hit him with a bar he had in the car.

The court heard Mr Baldwin accepted during the trial he then reached through the car window and pushed Cornell-Gallard’s passenger and indicated he was willing to fight in response to the threats.

However, he instead got back on his bike and continued cycling, but was followed by Cornell-Gallardo - who hit him on the head and arm with a steering wheel lock.

The judge said the victim’s injuries could have been “much more serious”, had he not been wearing a cycle helmet when he was struck.

Cornell-Gallardo’s barrister, Ruwani Hewage, argued his sentence was too long - saying the crown court judge didn’t take enough account of his youth or the fact it was his first offence.

She also said the driving ban was “wrong in principle”, because there was no link between the assault and his skills behind the wheel.

Ms Hewage said Cornell-Gallardo hoped to gain an HGV driving licence and then qualify to train lorry drivers in future, working for his father’s business - which he would be unable to do until 2013 if the ban remained in place.

Dismissing the appeal against the jail term, Lord Justice Leveston said 15 months was in fact lower than the sentencing guidelines suggest for a premeditated attack, where a weapon is used.

But the judge said the three-year ban was “unnecessary”, given the fact the incident only started on the road and was not a result of his bad driving.

He added: “In the circumstances, and particularly bearing in mind his anticipated future career, we quash the disqualification from driving.”