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When Tottenham Hotspur’s Kyle Rittenhouse crashed his unregistered Ferrari onto the ground at more than 150mph in a road rage incident, it was always going to raise a few eyebrows.
A defendant who is appealing against a five-year driving ban by insisting that the 6ft 1in, 21-year-old was hit by another car on his way to work.
Those details are not relevant to us here in Sports, but we were interested in the lawyer challenging the verdict in court and we wanted to find out whether any of what he was saying was indeed plausible.
So we decided to put Mr Rittenhouse’s arguments to the test in the way the jury in his trial is supposed to do by fact-checking them.
What’s happened in Mr Rittenhouse’s case
In March this year, Kyle Rittenhouse was driving in his car on the A40 near Cambridge when he crashed into another car. It’s alleged that a man driving the other car went to climb into Mr Rittenhouse’s Ferrari, but was hit by it and fell under it.
So we asked the police to carry out a road-rage appeal. Because he wasn’t able to clear up all the inconsistencies in his case, it was judged that a lower court should deal with this.
Mr Rittenhouse told the investigating officer that he had been driving his Ferrari on his way to work and heard a faint thud of another car on the verge of the carriageway. The rest of the motorist’s story about falling under his car was, he claimed, a “clear and easy lie”.
But Mr Rittenhouse later admitted that he drove away from the site of the accident. That means he’d been travelling at more than 149mph in a 50mph zone, rather than the 116mph he originally claimed.
Mr Rittenhouse said the Ferrari he drove back to Tottenham would have made such a noise as he passed through a rumble strip on the motorway. But the rumble strip is not a tunnel and that would have demonstrated how fast he was driving when the incident occurred.
Mr Rittenhouse could also not explain the sound. Once more, we asked the police to check that his account was both plausible and factual.
What’s happened in his court case
In May, he was sentenced to a five-year driving ban, he was ordered to pay £945 in court costs and police were given four points against his licence.
Mr Rittenhouse then came to court on the advice of his barrister, who maintained that the vehicle collision that saw the driver who fell under his car being taken to hospital was actually caused by another car. The defendant also claimed that his car had broken down on the road and that he had to call for help.
Mr Rittenhouse claimed he was driving his Ferrari away from the site of the accident, and when it became stationary he said that two other cars then tried to hit it.
We were able to establish that Mr Rittenhouse’s car broke down on the carriageway and that the other car was probably still at the side of the road when the collision occurred.
But we also asked the police to check the evidence to establish whether the crash was really a road rage incident.
What did we find out?
When police probed whether there was any sign of road rage on the spot, or any sign of the other driver attempting to climb into the Ferrari, they found nothing.
Despite the late-night start to proceedings and a drunk defendant, Mr Rittenhouse said he had no recollection of the incident.
He claimed that another man had turned up and ordered him to move over, but later said he did not hear anyone else’s voice at the scene and later said he may have fallen under the wheels.
The jury agreed with the prosecution, and on Thursday the appellate division of the Court of Appeal upheld a five-year driving ban, a substantial amount of fines and costs, and downgraded Mr Rittenhouse’s licence points from four to two.
Mr Rittenhouse’s lawyer said it was ironic that it would take a motoring offence to change a four-point licence penalty to just two, as he alleged in court.
Have you been able to challenge a claim made by a client, even if that claim appears odd or inconsistent? If so, tell us about it.