Court hears that car was speeding and on wrong side of road

A driver who pleaded guilty to causing the death of a cyclist through careless driving has been banned from driving for 12 months and given 240 hours community service by a Scottish court.

Cyclist Brian Taylor had been cycling to work in the early hours of the morning in November 2008 when he was hit by a Rover 400 driven by plumber Stephen McKay, and died from his injuries at the scene.

McKay claimed that Mr Taylor, a 29-year-old father of one, had been riding without lights, but STV News reports that police accident investigators later established after analysing skid marks that the motorist had been driving on the wrong side of the road and lost control of his vehicle.

They also estimated that McKay had been driving at speeds of up to 60mph on Grange Road, Dunfermline, a twisting road that has a speed limit of 40mph. The fatal collision occurred on a double bend, with the impact sending the victim onto the grass verge, with Mr Taylor suffering multiple fractures to his legs, ribs and skull. A post mortem found that he had "brain injuries consistent with being hit by a vehicle travelling between 50 and 60 mph."

The court heard that McKay remained in his vehicle without moving, with his headlights and hazard lights on before he stopped a passer-by and, in “"a panicked state", said: "I have just hit somebody. I think I have killed him."

The case was heard at Dunfermline Sheriff Court, where Sheriff Craig McSherry told "Had you been driving at a reckless speed you would be facing a charge of reckless driving. This quite obviously had a terrible outcome for the family of the accused, but in saying that, I do not believe the level of carelessness is substantial enough to merit a sentence of imprisonment."

The specific offence of causing death by careless driving was introduced in both England & Wales and Scotland in 2008 following pressure from road safety campaigners and cyclists' organisations due to the perceived leniency of sentences handed down to drivers charged with careless driving in cases where someone had died as a result of the driver's actions.

CTC Campaigns Coordinator Debra Rolfe said:"It is shocking that a motorist who killed a cyclist while driving significantly faster than the speed limit and on the wrong side of the road has only been convicted of causing death by careless driving. In my view, this is clearly dangerous driving. A 12-month driving ban seems very lenient in this case. A ban is not about punishing the motorist, but rather it's about taking people off the road who have demonstrated their ability to be a risk to others."

CTC is collecting data on cycling crashes and near misses through the website www.Stop-SMIDSY.org.uk.

Moments after being sentenced, McKay was back before the same court, where he was fined £260 for threatening a customer who had criticised his workmanship with a three-foot long toby key, a tool used by plumbers to turn mains water supply on and off.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.