Driver convicted of killing top NI cyclist has conviction quashed by Court of Appeal
Defence lawyers argue that witness statements diverge on cause of crash
The driver who was last year convicted at Antrim Crown Court of causing the death by dangerous driving of top Northern Irish road cyclist David McCall during a race in August 2008 has had his conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal.
Gerard Croome was sentenced to five years in jail in March last year for causing death by dangerous driving. Croome claimed at his trial that he was rushing to catch a plane and that Mr McCall who was taking part in a road race at the time had swerved to avoid a small dog and in to Croome's path causing the collision.
David McCall's bicycle was broken in to two pieces by the force of the impact and the rider himself thrown in to the air and fatally injured. Croome was said by witnesses to have been driving aggresively at the time of the incident – he did not stop at the scene but did return a short time later.
A full written judgement by the Court of Appeal has yet to be released but according to a BBC report the judges decision is thought to be in part on the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving not being put to the jury.
In their submission to the Court of Appeal Croome's lawyers argued that there were enough differences in witness accounts to create a sense of unease or doubt about the verdict which, Orlando Pownall QC told the: "Went to the very root of the prosecution case."
During sentencing at his original trial it emerged that Croome had two previous convictions for speeding and one for careless driving and that he had been convicted of two further speeding offences after the incident in which David McCall died. Judge Norman Lockie also commented on his lack of remorse for the death of Mr McCall a father of two, it also emerged in sentencing reports that Croome did not accept the verdict of the jury and continued to deny his guilt.
Should Gerard Croome be convicted at his retrial of causing death by careless driving the maximum sentence he is likely to receive for a case that the guidelines defines as 'borders on dangerous driving" is 3 years.
Gerard Croome has been released on bail pending a retrial.