United Kingdom

Belgian cyclist who kneed five-year-old girl to the floor ordered to pay just €1

A cyclist who sparked outrage in Belgium after he appeared to deliberately knock over a child has received a suspended sentence and been ordered to pay the family just €1 in damages.

Footage, which was captured at a nature park in Baraque Michel, showed the five-year-old girl walking with a woman on Christmas Day when she was struck by the cyclist who appeared to stick his knee out.

A court in the Belgian city of Verviers today ruled that the man was guilty of deliberately kneeing the girl and issued him with a suspended sentence on the grounds that he had been criticised enough on social media.  

The five-year-old girl is knocked to the ground by the cyclist as she walks in a park in Baraque Michel, Belgium, on Christmas Day

During the footage, which was shared online last year, the cyclist was seen emerging from a bend in the snowy road before knocking into the young girl and sending her toppling into the snow.  

Furious father Patrick Mpasa, who had been filming his wife and two children, later shared the video on social media asking if people agreed that he was right to complain to the police.  

Mr Mpasa said he had chased after the man and managed to make him stop but the cyclist had been unrepentant. 

The family soon filed a complaint with police and both the cyclist and any witnesses were asked to come forward.

Meanwhile the local cyclist Association GRACQ described the man's behaviour as 'unacceptable'. 

Today a judge opted for lenient treatment, arguing that the man had no intention of harming the girl, the incident was minor and he had already been criticised on social media.

The judge went on to say that the cyclist had already spent time in custody when he was arrested. 

The court ruled that the unnamed man must pay the girl's family a symbolic €1 (86p) in compensation for the incident. 

The cyclist emerges from a bend in the snowy road before knocking into the young girl and sending her toppling into the snow

The cyclist continues to ride his bike as the girl is knocked to the ground in Baraque Miche

During a court hearing on February 3, the cyclist stated that the incident happened because he had been trying to keep his balance. 

The cyclist told the judge: 'When I was riding close to the girl, I felt my rear wheel slide off. 

'To avoid a fall, I brought myself back into balance with a movement of the knee. I felt that I hit the girl, but did not immediately realise that she had fallen.' 

However the prosecutor said the statement seemed very unlikely, replying: 'He was annoyed by the people on the path who had to swerve around all the time. 

'He gave the child a ''knee punch'' out of sheer annoyance because an obstacle was in his way for the umpteenth time.' 

The judge also dismissed the accused's version of events, claiming: 'He gave the child a knee thrust out of sheer annoyance because for the umpteenth time an obstacle came his way.'

While the cyclist had faced up to a year in prison, the court decided to hand him a suspended sentence, meaning he will not face any penalties for his actions so long as he does not reoffend.  

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