CTC and families of cyclists killed by same driver 25 years apart call for appeal against driver's community service sentence

Audrey Fyfe's husband and George Dalgity's sister join CTC chief exec to deliver letter to Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service

by Simon_MacMichael   May 14, 2013  

Audrey Fyfe pic courtesy Scotsman.jpg

The families of Audrey Fyfe and George Dalgity, the Edinburgh cyclists killed nearly three decades apart by driver Gary McCourt, will today join CTC chief executive Gordon Seabright in delivering a letter to the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) requesting it to appeal against what the national cyclists’ organisation describes as the “scandalous” sentence given to the motorist earlier this month.

McCourt, aged 49, was given a 300-hour community sentence and banned from driving for five years after being found guilty last month of causing the death by careless driving of Mrs Fyfe, aged 75, in August 2011. The sentence was greeted with a mixture of disbelief and outrage by cyclists and cycling organisations.

After the jury at Edinburgh Sheriff Court delivered its verdict in the case last month, it was revealed that McCourt had previously been found guilty in June 1986 of causing the death by reckless driving the previous October of 22-year-old student Mr Dalgity, who died of head injuries a week after being struck close to his home in Edinburgh by a Ford Cortina driven by McCourt, also aged 22 at the time.

According to CTC – Mrs Fyfe had been a member of the organisation for more than five decades at the time of her death and met her husband Ian through it – 2,800 separate emails have been sent to the COPFS protesting about the sentence handed down to McCourt on 3 May.

The judge who sentenced him insisted there were no aggravating circumstances that would require a custodial sentence to be imposed – presumably many of those emails will have questioned whether his previous conviction was in itself one – and instead suggested that Mrs Fyfe had contributed to her own death by not wearing a cycle helmet. 

Rhia Weston, CTC’s Road Justice Campaigner, said she believed that Mrs Fyfe’s choice not to wear a helmet may have been a factor in the sentence Sheriff James Scott imposed on McCourt.

“It is debatable whether or not a helmet might have made a difference,” she said, “but more importantly it is legally irrelevant.

“The Sheriff’s role was to sentence McCourt for the seriousness of a motoring crime which cost a cyclist her life. Given McCourt's previous conviction, he should have received at least a lifetime driving ban."

That sanction is the very minimum that CTC is urging COPFS to press for, although the Scottish Government department, which performs a similar function to the one carried out by the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales, has said that it is giving “careful consideration” over whether to appeal McCourt’s sentence on the grounds that it is “unduly lenient.”

There were plenty of aggravating circumstances involved in the death of Mr Dalgity, however, according to details secured by CTC through a Freedom of Information Act request.

CTC says that McCourt, who held a provisional licence at the time,

“… was driving unsupervised and without licence plates. He pleaded guilty to the offences of driving without insurance, driving without a full licence and without supervision or licence plates, and for leaving the scene without exchanging details or reporting the collision to the police, and failing to produce his licence afterwards.  He pleaded not guilty to causing Dalgity’s death by reckless driving – but was nonetheless found guilty.  For the ‘causing death by reckless driving’ offence, he received a 1-year custodial sentence.”

According to contemporary newspaper reports, clippings of which were given to CTC by a former neighbour of Mr Dalgity, McCourt was also given a ten-year ban from driving.

The comments of the judge presiding over that earlier trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Cowie, contrast sharply with those of Sheriff Scott, although it should be borne in mind that the charges in that previous case were more serious than those in the more recent one.

“A young life has been destroyed by your unjustifiable and boorish conduct on the road,” Lord Cowie told McCourt.

“I think the appropriate thing to do is give you a very sharp lesson that you cannot behave in this way on the roads in this country.”

Mrs Fyfe’s husband, Ian, to whom she had been married for more than 50 years, will accompany Mr Seabright in delivering the letter to COPFS at 11am this morning, together with Mr Dalgity’s sister, Ann.

Yesterday, Mr Seabright met with Ian Fyfe and his daughter Linda Hamilton, who together with her sister Aileen Brown got in touch with CTC to urge it to fight for justice on their mother’s behalf.

Last week, Ms Brown, a member of Bath Cycling Club who had accompanied her mother on cycling trips abroad, said it was “beyond comprehension” that McCourt would be free to drive again in five years’ time.

In a press release from CTC, which is also calling on all of its members in Scotland to write to the Lord Advocate about the case, she added: “A holiday with mum was a lovely habit we enjoyed. There can't be many mother and daughter friendships close enough to want to spend holidays together for 45 years.”

15 user comments

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I am not a CTC member for various reasons I won't go into, but I will write to the Lord Advocate without using their draft letter, because everyone will just print and sign it.

I suggest, if you are thinking about doing that, at least go and personalise it to you.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
14th May 2013 - 2:33

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There isn't any justice in this country whatsoever.

posted by pmr [167 posts]
14th May 2013 - 10:27

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If you want to commit a random act of murder just get in your car and run down a cyclist. The Judiciary don't give a damn.

Angelfishsolo's picture

posted by Angelfishsolo [106 posts]
14th May 2013 - 10:38

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Gkam84 wrote:
I am not a CTC member for various reasons I won't go into, but I will write to the Lord Advocate without using their draft letter, because everyone will just print and sign it.

I suggest, if you are thinking about doing that, at least go and personalise it to you.

I agree with the need to avoid 100s of identical letters hitting the mat and being ignored - however please note the CTC website does allow for editing/personalising of the letter before sending - I think they were just trying to increase number of senders by reducing the need to start from scratch

posted by mad_scot_rider [546 posts]
14th May 2013 - 10:41

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Nothing wrong with sending an identical letter, its the intent it shows. This man is scum, I hope he suffers for the rest of his (hopefully short) miserable life.

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [296 posts]
14th May 2013 - 12:24

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This Man? should be sent to jail & when he gets out should NEVER be able to get behind a driving wheel EVER again!

Alex7

Baldy1alex's picture

posted by Baldy1alex [43 posts]
14th May 2013 - 17:56

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I'm not a mermber of the CTC, but I'll join now. We only have a voice if we have a suitable platform. We are all under serious threat and, as Scot, I am ashamed of this Scottish justice. Really disgusting.

posted by Bob McCall [14 posts]
14th May 2013 - 20:14

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I joined this forum just to register my anger and outrage over this terrible case as it doesnt seem to be receiving a great deal of attention in the farce that is the British media
I too hope the sentence for this utter scum lowlife is re-evaluated with the recommendation that the filth receives a lengthy custodial sentence,substantial compensation to the poor families concerned and a lifetime driving ban
I cannot imagine what the pain these poor people went through and the tremendous suffering of the families,lets hope sense and justice prevails because this scum has got away with murder twice

posted by Lane71 (not verified) [123 posts]
14th May 2013 - 21:08

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Another opportunity to lobby for my "sail over steam" approach. Unless proven otherwise, motor vehicles should always be presumed at fault if a cyclist or pedestrian is hit, and cyclists should always be presumed at fault if a pedestrian is hit. The strong must watch out for the weak and vulnerable.

Ride your own ride

posted by CanAmSteve [126 posts]
15th May 2013 - 8:22

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I wonder is it possible to take a civil action against this individual if the criminal processes won't punish him appropriately. I'd certainly contribute to a fighting fund to prosecute a civil case against him.

Tom

posted by mamil1965 [10 posts]
15th May 2013 - 11:19

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I am fuming and totally outraged by this.
As I have said before there should be a cycling vigilante group set up. The Edinburgh chapter of this should stroll round to McCourt's house one fine evening to point out to him the error of his ways.
This sentence does nothing to protect the lives and limbs of cyclists on British roads and practically condones irresponsible driving.
What comes next, awarding points to murdering ba***rds? Perhaps they can get a trophy after getting 12 points. It could be called A Clarkson.
And don't get me going about the lack of penalty points on various peoples' driving licences! Is there still one in the Warrington area still behind the wheel with 26 penalty points?

K Stand Ken

posted by K Stand Ken [43 posts]
15th May 2013 - 15:18

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I bought a good quality bike helmet and found in the paperwork that came with it that it would not protect me in a road accident so what is the point of wearing one ? Thinking

posted by brandobiker [22 posts]
16th May 2013 - 0:47

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If anyone knows the drivers address then you must endeavour to make him late for his community service as much as possible that way he will be refered back to court and will then at least recieve further sentencing for contempt of court

tired old fart

posted by tired old fart [82 posts]
16th May 2013 - 15:12

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I know his address & so do the local press as they had a crime reporter parked at the end of his street just to make sure he is caught on camera if he thinks about getting behind a wheel again. Wink
This judge seems to thing that road deaths are unfortunate but a person's right to drive is paramount. Angry
Given the opportunity, I'd have all drivers charged with careless or dangerous driving banned immediately ie while awaiting trail.
I'd have a driving ban for all drivers caught driving carelessly or recklessly, just as we do for those caught drink driving (& not just if they have caused an accident).
I'd also have an automatic lifetime ban for those who kill or maim other road users. That would make drivers concentrate a bit more on safety than speed if they knew they would lose their licence.

Aileen

posted by Aileen [7 posts]
16th May 2013 - 22:41

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So, if you kill people, by ineptitude/ignorance/selfishness, you only get community service?
Ideal! What a great country this is!
It's no wonder Britain is becoming more right-wing and reactionary . . .

posted by cyclist67 [13 posts]
28th May 2013 - 13:38

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