A CYCLIST has condemned the thugs who pushed him into the River Aire before stealing his bike as he rode home from work.
Julian Walls, from Garforth, lost his wedding ring in the water and was lucky to escape serious injury when he was attacked near the Royal Armouries in Leeds.
The 33-year-old said: “They didn’t have a right to steal my bike, but the thing I really keep coming back to is that they didn’t care what happened to me.
“For all they knew I might not have been able to swim, I could have hit my head and been knocked unconscious. All they cared about was getting something for nothing – they had no thought about me.”
Mr Walls was commuting home from his job at the Health and Social Care Information Centre in Trevelyan Square last Thursday, July 3, when he spotted two groups of youths standing on the path by the river between the Royal Armouries and the South Accommodation Road flyover.
He said: “One of them separated from the rest. He looked one way, then the other, almost like he was acting as a lookout.
“As I went past he pushed me with some force. My back hit the concrete and I went under water.”
When he emerged from the water, the gang was gone but Mr Walls managed to catch the attention of a passing jogger who pulled him out.
Apart from cuts and bruises, he hasn’t suffered any long-term ill effects, but he said he has thought twice about riding along the same route again.
“I love cycling and part of me wants to go back down there and not let them get to me, but it does affect you.”
Detective Constable Debbie Farley, of Leeds District Neighbourhood Crime Team, appealed for information. He said: “This incident could have easily have more serious consequences given these males went off leaving the victim in the river without any idea of his injuries. As it was it was a distressing experience for him to be attacked in this way.
“This was a nasty and cynical attack on someone just to steal their bike from them.
“A number of people went to the victim’s aid afterwards and I would like to hear from anyone who has not yet spoken to us.”
She also asked to hear from anyone who recognises the youths seen in the CCTV picture or who has seen the bike – a white coloured Whyte brand mountain bike.
Anyone with information is asked to contact DC 4157 Farley at Elland Road via 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.