Notorious Portsmouth man Gary Saunders jailed for knocking down pensioner, 78, and breaking his arm

A THUG cyclist jailed for ‘mowing down’ a 78-year-old pedestrian breaking his arm has been told he shows a ‘disregard for other people’.

Monday, 20th December 2021, 4:55 am

Well-known Portsmouth man Gary Saunders, 61, protested ‘how can you do that to me?’ as he was jailed by a judge for 28 months.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how Saunders - who has 355 past offences to his name - recklessly clipped the pensioner with his handlebar while riding on the pavement in Elm Grove, Southsea.

But he then stood over the victim - who knew instantly his arm was broken when he hit the ground - and said he was ‘faking it’.

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Gary Saunders. Picture: Hampshire police

A public police appeal for a top-hat wearing cyclist put police on the trail of Saunders, of Osborne Road, Southsea, and he was arrested.

He told officers it was an ‘accident’ but after advice from his solicitor Bridget O’Hagan, instantly pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm on a reckless basis.

Prosecutor Rosheen Iyer said his criminal record was ‘unattractive’ and the injury caused was ‘grave’.

Judge William Ashworth said he would only focus on the past decade of crimes in reaching his sentencing decision for the incident on March 14 this year.

Portsmouth man Gary Saunders spotted in Albert Road, Southsea, on November 24, 2021.

Even then the judge said his record was ‘characterised by offences of public disorder, offences in the community’.

Saunders has 19 breaches of Asbos and criminal behaviour orders, 14 of public disorder, six of which are racially-aggravated - 12 batteries and one assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He has assaulted police three times while being arrested, the court heard.

Addressing Saunders, judge Ashworth said: ‘Citizens whatever their age... are entitled to a peaceable existence in the community and to be able to go and walk about without feeling frightened or without being at risk.

Gary Saunders. Picture: Hampshire police

‘Perhaps what is a characteristic, which speaks of this pattern of yours, is after you have knocked (the victim) down and broken his arm, you were standing over him saying... “silly little fart”... accusing him of faking it and asking him not to tell the police.

‘This is an expression of your view that other people are beneath your concern.’

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In a statement from October read in court, the victim said he spent three 12-hour days in hospital ‘which during the Covid crisis was a great concern’.

He added: ‘The treatment I was given at the time was excruciatingly painful and now seven months on from the incident I still have difficulties... with pain.’

He said ‘since the incident I’m terrified of both cyclists and scooters’ and used his phone to check over his shoulder while out exercising.

The man still has to soak his hand and wrist in warm water as part of treating the injury, and had difficulties opening things for four months - affecting his independence.

He had been out walking with his wife and two friends at around 3.20pm on the stretch between Tesco Express and the traffic lights at the junction of Grove Road North, Grove Road South and Elm Grove.

Saunders - who the judge said showed a ‘repetitive history and a pattern’ of offending - will serve half of his sentence before being eligible for release.

Bridget O’Hagan, mitigating, told the judge Saunders is ‘well known in the city’ and everyone has a story or quip about him.

She added: ‘I can tell you that when I have dealt with him he’s rough, he’s tall, he’s big, he’s stocky, and when he speaks he always sounds aggressive even when he’s saying hello that’s unfortunate for him because people will tar him.

‘Sometimes it’s justified and sometimes it’s not.’

Ms O’Hagan said previous press coverage about Saunders had drawn out comments about her.

The judge said the court ‘cannot do its job’ without people representing defendants and society ‘cannot have a fair justice system without it’.

Investigating officer Det Con Shaun Goddard said: ‘This was a reckless and avoidable incident caused by complete carelessness on Saunders’ part. The fact that he then continued to target abuse at the victim following the traumatic incident he had just encountered is completely unacceptable.

‘Assaults of this nature will not be tolerated and we take them extremely seriously. I hope that this case sends a clear message that we will investigate thoroughly and prosecute anyone who is involved in this kind of serious incident.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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