A Belgian cyclist who went viral after he was filmed kneeing a little girl and knocking her to the ground as he rode past her and her family has won his court case against her father for posting the footage online.
A court will determine in April next year how much compensation he is entitled to after he successfully argued he was defamed.
The footage was filmed by five-year-old Neia’s dad, Patrick Mpasa, during their family walk in a nature reserve in Baraque Michel, Liege Province on Christmas Day 2020.
The cyclist was taken to court in Verviers, only to be given a suspended sentence on the grounds that he had been criticised enough on social media and was ordered to pay the girl’s family a pitiful €1 in compensation.
The video shows him knocking into the youngster, causing her to topple over.
But the 62-year-old cyclist – who has not been named publicly – sued Mpasa for defamation.
A Belgian cyclist (left) who went viral after he was filmed kneeing a little girl and knocking her to the ground as he rode past her and her family has won his court case against her father for posting the footage online
In the video, the five-year-old girl is seen walking by her mother’s side on the snow-covered path as the cyclist approaches them from behind.
Just as he rides alongside the girl, he extends his knee out, hitting the little girl and knocking her to the ground before continuing on his way unbothered.
The family believed it was not an accident, as the man did not stop to check if the girl was okay and carried on cycling down the path.
However, the court decided the cyclist was free to go because he had incurred enough criticism on social media over the incident.
But the story did not end there. Almost a year after the incident, the cyclist went back to court to sue the girl’s father for defamation.
He did so on the grounds that the backlash the video received resulted in him feeling so threatened by the public he was scared to leave his own house.
Jacques Englebert, Mpasa’s lawyer, said in response to the defamation suit at the time: ‘We have the right to express ourselves. We have the right to post or have posted a video on the internet. In this case, we must check whether we have exceeded the limits of this freedom of expression.’
The cyclist continues to ride his bike as the girl is knocked to the ground in Baraque Miche
However, Englebert’s arguments were not strong enough in court, and Mpasa has lost the case and could be ordered to pay compensation.
In the footage, which went viral online, 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.
Mpasa said he had chased after the man and managed to make him stop but the cyclist had been unrepentant.
‘He explained what happened and asked us to withdraw the police complaint, but he showed no remorse and did not apologise,’ said Mpasa at the time.
‘A lot of people tell me that I should have hit him, but I don’t agree and, in any case, I was in front of my children, which would have made things even worse for them. I also don’t want a witch hunt, I just want him to apologise.’
The family soon filed a complaint with police and both the cyclist and any witnesses were asked to come forward.
During a court hearing on February 3, 2021, the cyclist claimed that the incident had happened because he had tried to keep his balance.
He said: ‘When I was riding close to the girl, I felt my rear wheel sliding. To avoid a fall, I balanced myself with a movement of my knee. I felt that I might have hit the girl, but did not immediately realise she had been knocked over.’
But the prosecution argued his statement seemed very unlikely.
The cyclist emerged from a bend in the snowy road before knocking into the young girl and sending her toppling into the snow
‘He was simply annoyed by the people on the path whom he had to swerve around all the time,’ they said. ‘He gave the child a ”knee punch” out of sheer annoyance because an obstacle was in his way for the umpteenth time.’
The local cyclist association described the man’s behaviour as ‘unacceptable’, but the 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, and ruled that the unnamed man must pay the girl’s family a symbolic €1 (86p) in compensation for the incident.
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.
I am Rakesh Sharma, I associated with Elite News as an Editor, since 2021. I take care of all the news operations like content, budget, hiring and policy making.