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Double killer spared jail for "momentary" loss of concentration - judge notes victim's lack of helmet...

Gary McCourt the Edinburgh man found guilty of causing the death by careless driving of cyclist Audrey Fife in August 2011 has been sentenced to 300 hours community service and banned from driving for five years at the Edinburgh Sheriff Court. After the guilty verdict was returned in the case of Mrs Fife it was revealed that McCourt was also responsible for the death of another cyclist, 22 year-old student, George Dalgity in 1986.

Sentencing McCourt who admitted to police that he had "clipped" Mrs Fife's bike, Sheriff James Scott said that the collision had occurred when McCourt "momentarily" lost concentration and that while "Mrs Fife wasn't in any way to blame for the accident" in his view the fact that she wasn't wearing a helmet contributed to her death. 

According to the BBC Sheriff Scott said he felt able to spare McCourt a prison sentence because there were no aggravating factors, such as drink or drug abuse - although some will surely question whether the fact that this was McCourt's second offence was in itself an aggravating factor.

Sheriff Scot said he also took in to account the fact that McCourt had frequently expressed genuine remorse and that the 47-year old suffered from depression and showed signs of post traumatic stress disorder.

Prior to sentencing Mrs Fife's widower, John had said that jailing McCourt would be a waste of taxpayers money, however as we reported last weekend Mr Dalgity's family felt strongly to the contrary and wrote to the court calling on the Sheriff to impose a stiff sentence.

“It’s been suggested that sending him to jail would be a waste of taxpayers’ money but the four years that George spent at university could be seen as that, too,” she adds. “He never had a chance to use his degree. Never had a chance to live his life,” George Dalgity's sister, Ann told The Scotsman.

There is the possibility that McCourt's sentence could be appealed on the grounds of undue leniency, whether to proceed with such an appeal will be a matter for the procurator fiscal's office, the body that performs a similar role in bringing prosecutions in Scotland as the CPS does in England and Wales.

What can be said with more certainty is that the sentence imposed by this court on a man who has now been convicted of killing two cyclists is sure to reignite the debate about lenient sentencing for drivers who kill cyclists and pedestrians. Last year a coalition of cycling organisations and other road safety groups met with the Helen Grant the Justice Minister with responsibility for victims & the courts to call for a review of sentencing guidelines in such cases. While the minister expressed her support and  promised to look in to the matter as yet there has been no further action taken.

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.

35 comments

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Mat Brett [625 posts] 3 years ago
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He has post traumatic stress disorder? I know a way he can avoid that: stop killing people.

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georgee [162 posts] 3 years ago
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Pathetic, again.

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badkneestom [135 posts] 3 years ago
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Just out of curiousity, how would lack of helmet compare to say failure to use seat belt in the UK? Curious how the two safety devices are seen differently on vehicles.

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spatuluk [27 posts] 3 years ago
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They only banned him from driving for 5 years, so when those 5 years are up, he'll be suffering from depression, PTSD, and rusty driving skills on top of his inability to concentrate while in charge of a motor vehicle.

I think there's a good chance of a #3 in 5 years time.  2

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angriest [20 posts] 3 years ago
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Hey, come on guys, which one of us hasn't killed at least two people? Let's be reasonable here, eh?

/outraged sarcasm

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therealsmallboy [167 posts] 3 years ago
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Growl....

Words can't describe my frustration.

Would he have not hit her if she was wearing a helmet then Mr Scott? So it's her fault now?

Fucking pillock!

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 3 years ago
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Well both these cases occurred in the UK badkneestom, but the big difference would be that wearing a seatbelt in a car is a legal requirement whereas wearing a helmet while riding a bike is not.

The Sheriff's comment regarding Mrs Fife's lack of a helmet seem on the face of it ill-informed because his assumption seems to be that the outcome would have been different had she been wearing one however it seems unlikely to me that having been "clipped" by a car she would have been traveling at a low enough speed for the helmet to have made any difference to the outcome.

But let's not get sidetracked by talking about helmets, the issue here is that a man whose driving skills are so poor that he has killed twice in 25 years, has been given what amounts to a slap on the wrist by the courts. The fact that the sheriff didn't conclude that it was maybe time for McCourt to hand over his driving keys permanently is almost more gob-smacking than the sentence.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Disgusting. Last month in London a man was given a (suspended) jail sentence for fraudulently topping up an Oyster card. Obviously a bigger crime than killing someone.

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benb [80 posts] 3 years ago
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In other news, a judge said that a gunshot victim's failure to wear a kevlar vest contributed to their death.

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Tom Amos [236 posts] 3 years ago
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If he had driven into a pedestrian who wasn't wearing a helmet, would the Judge have made the same comment?

There seems to be an increasing pressure to wear helmets even though they are not compulsory under law.

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Paul J [885 posts] 3 years ago
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Make helmets and hi-viz compulsory. That should help sort out the cycling problem.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 3 years ago
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Poor Mrs Fife had clearly been enjoying cycling all her life and survived until 75 without wearing a helmet and then this ©unt comes along and suddenly it contributed to her death? The only thing that contributed to her death was this murdering dickhead getting in his car when he should be in prison.

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tourdelound [158 posts] 3 years ago
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Yet another justice FAIL.
 14

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notfastenough [3685 posts] 3 years ago
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Well he only 'clipped' her with the car, after all. The fact that the vehicle weighed over a ton didn't kill her, it was the lack of a non-compulsory helmet. Obviously.

Looking on the bright side, every time such an appalling sentence is handed down, it reinforces the points made by the all-party report on cycling - i.e. the law is failing vulnerable road users.

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WolfieSmith [1323 posts] 3 years ago
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I'd give him post traumatic stress disorder...

I use lights at night as it's the law.

I wear a helmet as I choose to. Others have the choice not too and I support that.

I do not wear hi vis because it should not be necessary. If it is we should all pop in on to cross the road.

Our Gary should have had a 10 year ban. It'll give him more time to cycle to work and experience what it's like to run the gauntlet of the careless, the impatient and the downright psychotic people that as cyclists we all meet every week.

I have nothing but contempt for him.

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badkneestom [135 posts] 3 years ago
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Tony, from my understanding (given I'm on break and had to read fast) the helmet discussion should be considered because the judge took it into account.

What would the penalty have been if he had hit another car when the individual hadn't been utilizing an unrequired safety device? I'm mentioning helmet to seat belt because that's the closest comparison I can think of.

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Fatbagman [21 posts] 3 years ago
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British justice at it best. That tool is now on a roll, he probably thinks if I do it again I'll get a medal.

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gazza_d [461 posts] 3 years ago
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The difference is that seatbelts are mandatory unless it's an old car.

Airbags are a different kettle of fish. If she'd been a passenger in a car without passenger airbags and suffered a head injury, can you imagine the outcry if the judge had said that it was partly her fault as her car didn't have them fitted?

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Dropped [89 posts] 3 years ago
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I can't describe how furious I am. I just want to see the little shite die a slow and painful death, and I am anti-death penalty. Six months in prison for going for a swim and disturbing some Hooray Henrys sporting event (last years Boat Race), and community service for killing two cyclists. I just don't fucking get it......

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Cauld Lubter [135 posts] 3 years ago
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Och, man; surely he's entitled to a cyclist every 30 years? Wee Jock weeps.

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
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The carnage continues, this one absolutely incredible. Nothing to do with helmets, rather it should be a priority to get this animal off the road. Absolutely appaling.

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alronald [58 posts] 3 years ago
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According to the judge "I take into account that the accused has been ill and has suffered from depression and that he displays signs of post-traumatic stress disorder."

Shame you didn't take the fact that he has killed two cyclists in two separate incidents into account. Wonder if you had been equally considerate if he had killed 2 motorists

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Mat Brett [625 posts] 3 years ago
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If he gets his hat-trick, will the judge award him the bike to keep as a trophy? Something to pass on to the grandchildren.

Unreal.

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Rupert49 [40 posts] 3 years ago
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FFS! again we are let down by ill informed twerps who sit in judgement and who are there supposidly to protect the innocent, oh wait the victim wasn't wearing a piece of expanded polystyrene packing case on their head so that's ok  14 .

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badkneestom [135 posts] 3 years ago
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gazza_d wrote:

The difference is that seatbelts are mandatory unless it's an old car.

Airbags are a different kettle of fish. If she'd been a passenger in a car without passenger airbags and suffered a head injury, can you imagine the outcry if the judge had said that it was partly her fault as her car didn't have them fitted?

There, thank you. What would happen if he killed someone due to lack of airbag in a vehicle? I'm sure there are court cases to show what the penalty was..

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matdicko [7 posts] 3 years ago
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What more does this twat have to do to get a custodial sentence, despicable.

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PhilRuss [388 posts] 3 years ago
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matdicko wrote:

What more does this twat have to do to get a custodial sentence, despicable.

[[[[ Er...he has to "clip" (kill) a member of the judiciary, who's wearing elbow-pads, knee-pads, suit of armour, kevlar vest, and of course a helmet.
Although the driver will escape any real penalty as long as he's contrite and feeling a bit sad, like.
P.R.

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Argos74 [393 posts] 3 years ago
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Words. Words. More bad words. My deepest sympathies to the victim's family. This isn't justice. This isn't right. You can't kill two people through "carelessness", feel a bit down about it and get away with a telling off and picking up rubbish in the park.

The next general election is in 2 years and 3 days time.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/

Make the buggers sweat for your vote.

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QAEngineer624 [7 posts] 3 years ago
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My condolences to the families of the victims for their losses and the slap over the pathetically inadequate sentence.

How, in the name of all that is Good and Holy, can such a sentence be acceptable! It is not a question. Guilt, remorse and shame are not enough. A tangible, measurable and meaningful penalty is required. Accidents happen; but twice? It may not deter every such incident but a stronger sentence is fully warranted.
If I told you that twelve years ago while riding my bike I knocked over a pram and caused brain damage to a baby, what would you say? There would have been a world-wide search for me. And, if I did it again last week, do I have to ask if your blood would be boiling.

I live in Canada and have only recently started reading Road.cc I am astounded and disturbed over the number of incidents. Perhaps the rate of cycling incidents is no greater than before, but at least people are being made aware of the issue of sharing the road. It troubles me that there are still people blaming the victims. On the other hand, I suppose those women pushing those prams should really have been more responsible.

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paulfg42 [387 posts] 3 years ago
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Not only should that wanker be in jail, the sheriff should be removed from judicial office forthwith. Disgusting.

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