A man convicted of causing the death of a cyclist by careless driving has walked free from a Scottish court after being handed a sentence of 300 hours community service and a four-year driving ban.
Alastair Dudgeon died after being hit by James Sneddon's Vauxhall Astra at about 2am on January 6, 2013 near the Kincardine Bridge in Fife.
According to The Scotsman's Dave Finlay, the High Court in Edinburgh was told on Monday that Mr Dudgeon, from High Valleyfield, Fife, regularly cycled to and from his work as a baker at a Tesco store in Camelon, on the outskirts of Falkirk.
He sustained a broken neck, rib fractures and internal injuries, including to the aorta — the main artery from the heart — when he was hit from behind by Sneddon.
Sneddon denied the charge of causing death by dangerous driving, and was found guilty of the lesser offence of causing death by careless driving.
One witness told the court that weather conditions were clear and visibility was reasonable even though the riad was not lit.
A police constable estimated he could see the flashing rear light on Dudgeon's bike from about 200 metres away as he drove to the scene.
Prosecuting, advocate depute Bruce Erroch reminded the court that the Highway Code told drivers to give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as when overtaking a car.
He told jurors that if they thought Mr Dudgeon had contributed in some way to his death by not wearing a high-visibility jacket, that was not something that absolved Sneddon. He said what mattered was that the driver should have seen Dudgeon well before the collision and taken steps to avoid him.
Defence counsel Emma Toner said Sneddon had expressed genuine remorse for having been the cause of Dudgeon's family's loss.
Sentencing Sneddon, judge Nigel Morrison said: “The death of Alastair Dudgeon at the age of 51 is a tragedy for his family.”
Mr Dudgeon’s widow was “devastated” by the loss, he said, but he was taking into accoount the lack of aggravating factors such as deliberate course of bad driving, drinking or using a mobile phone.
He noted that Sneddon had been assessed as posing a very low risk of re-offending.
Sneddon's sentence is within the recommended sentencing range (see page 15) for causing death through careless or inconsiderate driving arising from momentary inattention with no aggravating factors.
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.