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Gary McCourt, the motorist who has killed two cyclists, will be driving again within five years

Gary McCourt, the Edinburgh motorist twice convicted of kiling a cyclist, will be free to drive again in less than five years' time after the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh rejected an appeal by the Crown against what it beleved was an "unduly lenient" sentence handed down to him in May for causing the death by careless driving of 75-year-old cyclist Audrey Fyfe in 2011.

National cyclists' organisation CTC, which organised a successful petition to ask Scotland's Lord Advocate to appeal the sentence imposed on 49-year-old McCourt - a five-year ban from driving plus 300 hours'  community service - says that it is "extremely disappointed" in the decision, while Mrs Fyfe's daughter Aileen Brown, pictured anbove with her mother, said that the Scottish justice system had failed cyclists.

McCourt insisted that he had merely "clipped" Mrs Fyfe's bike, while the trial judge, Sheriff James Scott, made much of the fact Mrs Fyfe - a cyclist for more than half a century, who had met her husband through their joint love of cycling - hadn't been wearing a helmet, which he believed contributed tto her death.

When McCourt was convicted in April, it emerged that he had been sentenced to a year in prison and banned for driving for ten years in 1986 for causing the death of 22-year-old student George Dalgity through reckless driving.

McCourt had pleaded not guilty to that charge, but pleaded guilty on separate charges of driving without insurance, driving without a full licence and without supervision or licence plates, leaving the scene without exchanging details or reporting the collision to the police, and failing to produce his licence afterwards.

Donald Urquhart, secretary of CTC Scotland said outside the court today: “Whilst it might be considered a success to have persuaded the Crown to lodge an  appeal against the  original sentence, the fact is that someone who has now killed two vulnerable road users with a motor vehicle will be allowed to resume driving in a relatively short time whilst the families and friends of those killed have been permanently affected by his criminal conduct. 

"The authority to drive a motor vehicle is not a right; it is a privilege that comes with the grant of a driving licence. That privilege should be withdrawn when the driving conduct of an individual falls below that which might be reasonably expected and, in particular, when other, more vulnerable road users are affected.

"In this case, two people have been killed by someone who has failed to meet even the most basic standards of driving on two separate occasions but who is still being allowed to resume driving at some point in the near future, something that must be considered a risk and to the detriment of other vulnerable road users.

"That is neither right nor acceptable in a civilised society. ”

The decision comes just weeks after the government, in its response to the Get Britain Cycling report published by the All Partty Parliamentary Cycling Group following a six-week enquiry earlier this year, said it would order a review in the new year of the investigation, prosecution and sentencing in cases where cyclists and other vulnerable road users are the victims.

That was one of the issues discussed by MPs at the Get Brtain Cycling debate in the House of Commons earlier this month.

Mrs Fyfe's daughter Aileen Brown said: “I am lost for words. There was a unanimous vote in parliament earlier this month to strengthen the enforcement of road traffic law, to ensure that driving offences - especially those resulting in death or injury - are treated sufficiently seriously      by police, prosecutors and judges.

"The police here did an admirable job for us but the Scottish  justice system appear to have had complete disregard for government policy.

"Scotland led the way in the smoking ban and minimum pricing on alcohol. The decision to allow Gary McCourt and drivers like him to drive again suggests that the judiciary are frightened to grasp the nettle and make decisions which would make our country a safer place to live."

 

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.

38 comments

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 2 years ago
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can we get a link to the full decision? - I'd LOVE to hear the reasoning behind this

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Gkam84 [9068 posts] 2 years ago
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What a f**king joke

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IanD [22 posts] 2 years ago
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Lost for words here.

I can only hope that there is a way this can be used to influence Kenny MacKaskill and the Scottish Parliament to make a change to the law.

Shocking decision and appalling for the family members

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 2 years ago
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incredible ignorance and incompetence of the British justice system for justice of cyclists ....

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Gkam84 [9068 posts] 2 years ago
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zanf [760 posts] 2 years ago
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Karbon Kev wrote:

incredible ignorance and incompetence of the British justice system for justice of cyclists ....

Sorry but "British justice system"?

No such thing exists.

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Docroddy [30 posts] 2 years ago
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Docroddy [30 posts] 2 years ago
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ThatBritishBloke [19 posts] 2 years ago
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Bear in mind the Scottish judicial system is separate from the one in England and Wales.

I'm not saying the outcome would be any different there ... it still stinks.

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Carl [135 posts] 2 years ago
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Gkam84 wrote:

What a f**king joke

Agree completely.

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mooleur [537 posts] 2 years ago
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Urgh >.<

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netclectic [130 posts] 2 years ago
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A sad day to be Scottish.
So much for our once great judicial system  14

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 2 years ago
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Court opinion distills to

- accident caused by only momentary inattention at low speeds - death resulting not forseeable

- victim not wearing a helmet irrelevant due to "... no evidence, medical or otherwise, that the absence of a cycle helmet contributed to the death"

- previous conviction not taken into account due to "... the antiquity of the aggravating offence..."

When spelled out the logic holds some water - however I still feel emotionally torn about the outcome

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 2 years ago
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Disgraceful. I would say "shocking" but I'm not shocked.

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step-hent [718 posts] 2 years ago
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All of that reasoning is sound, except:

'A fatal outcome as a result of the degree of danger created by the quality of the respondent's driving was not reasonably foreseeable.'

This is the fundamental issue with road safety for cyclists - people assume that low speed collisions for cyclists have the same risk as low speed collisions for cars. While people (and in particular, those in government and in the judiciary) continue to operate on that assumption, the ignorance of cycle and safety and the poor enforcement of the law will continue.

mad_scot_rider wrote:

Court opinion distills to

- accident caused by only momentary inattention at low speeds - death resulting not forseeable

- victim not wearing a helmet irrelevant due to "... no evidence, medical or otherwise, that the absence of a cycle helmet contributed to the death"

- previous conviction not taken into account due to "... the antiquity of the aggravating offence..."

When spelled out the logic holds some water - however I still feel emotionally torn about the outcome

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mrmo [2021 posts] 2 years ago
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so crashing into pedestrians and cyclists at 20-30mph is ok?

Low speed!!!!

define low speed please! pedestrian at 5mph would be fast. car at 50 would be slow. which would you rather be hit by!

FFS

What is the F****** point!

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Mostyn [396 posts] 2 years ago
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Mr Bumble said : The Law is an ASS! Seems he was correct in his statement.
You'd get a jail sentance for failiure to pay a fine; and just community service for killing someone.

What an INJUSTICE.

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Simon_MacMichael [2443 posts] 2 years ago
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zanf wrote:
Karbon Kev wrote:

incredible ignorance and incompetence of the British justice system for justice of cyclists ....

Sorry but "British justice system"?

No such thing exists.

Separate legal systems yes, but it's slightly more complicated; much of the legislation in Scotland (including that relating to causing death by careless driving, the charge in this case) is the very same legislation applying in England and Wales.

And an appeal from the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh would go to the Supreme Court in London (formerly the House of Lords); at that level, decisions in Scottish cases would be binding on lower courts in England & Wales, and vice-versa.

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 2 years ago
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Not defending the court decision or the driver (who is trash) however the facts are:-

1. Low Speed

The incident occurred as the driver turned right from a main road into a side road, clipping the rear wheel of the bicycle - after which she carried on a short distance, wobbled then fell - I think from my own driving experience we can safely assume car speeds in the 10 to 20mph range for a 90 degree turn like that (speculative)

2. Sentencing

Courts can only apply the law and sentencing guidelines - they CANNOT make or apply new laws - government must do that

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ironmancole [276 posts] 2 years ago
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Shame on all those involved at high levels without the backbone to seize opportunity to make a bold declaration that road safety is critical.

Since when did the basic right to live become less protected than the privilege to operate lethal machinery in the public domain?

Is government now liable for any potential 3rd victim now that they've effectively sanctioned his supposed fitness to drive? Things would change overnight if legal claims landed on their doorsteps for failure to check a driver is actually fit to be on the roads.

Sad day for common sense and the future of public safety.

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Gkam84 [9068 posts] 2 years ago
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This has just come up on twitter..... http://www.deadlinenews.co.uk/2010/02/24/13908-2692/

It seems that Sheriff James Scott has previous in Driver vs Cyclist cases....  14 14 14 14

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Shock, horror, the slaughter will continue it seems.

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 2 years ago
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zanf wrote:
Karbon Kev wrote:

incredible ignorance and incompetence of the British justice system for justice of cyclists ....

Sorry but "British justice system"?

No such thing exists.

yup you're right there mate ...

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sfichele [140 posts] 2 years ago
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The police /expert/ report doesn't add up.

"The damage was very slight, therefore speed on impact was low and speed was not a contributory factor. From the position of a scratch on the road surface made by the cycle’s offside pedal guard, PC Wilson concluded that after the collision the cyclist continued in the same direction of travel for 7 feet or more, lost her balance, and fell to her right. Contact between the car and bicycle must have been minimal”."

If she was travelling at a very slow 10 mph, then 7 feet means she hit the deck in less than 0.5 seconds. That is a small amount of time to describe a cyclist that has lost her balance, and fell over of her own accord. Whereas in fact the impulse from the collision means she has practically hit the deck almost immediately, and in no way tallies with the police report conclusion.

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Gkam84 [9068 posts] 2 years ago
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sfichele wrote:

The police /expert/ report doesn't add up.

"The damage was very slight, therefore speed on impact was low and speed was not a contributory factor. From the position of a scratch on the road surface made by the cycle’s offside pedal guard, PC Wilson concluded that after the collision the cyclist continued in the same direction of travel for 7 feet or more, lost her balance, and fell to her right. Contact between the car and bicycle must have been minimal”."

If she was travelling at a very slow 10 mph, then 7 feet means she hit the deck in less than 0.5 seconds. That is a small amount of time to describe a cyclist that has lost her balance, and fell over of her own accord. Whereas in fact the impulse from the collision means she has practically hit the deck almost immediately, and in no way tallies with the police report conclusion.

The phrase "Arse from elbow" springs to mind

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cidermart [486 posts] 2 years ago
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Will only change when it happens to one of their families an utter disgrace and they should be ashamed of themselves.

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Sara_H [57 posts] 2 years ago
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Once again, condolences to Audrey's loved ones. What's happened today must feel like a kick in the teeth.

For my part, every time this happens, I become a little more disillusioned with the society I live in.

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alronald [58 posts] 2 years ago
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Appears that the Scottish judicial system and Sheriff James Scott in particular have previous when it comes to siding with motorists who hit cyclists

http://www.deadlinenews.co.uk/2010/02/24/13908-2692/

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alronald [58 posts] 2 years ago
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McCourt's solicitor is now claiming that "the cycling lobby have misdirected themselves regarding public safety" and "had the crown not been so pressurised by the cycling fraternity we suspect they would not have taken this to appeal".

http://www.theedinburghreporter.co.uk/2013/09/gary-mccourt-appeal-by-cro...

Half expecting him to pop up on Breakfast TV with an Emma Wrayesque defence of his client. Poor Gary.... He's been treated so badly......he's a cyclist himself.....Or that he will launch a compensation claim against the CTC for the stress caused to him by their appeal

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dp24 [201 posts] 2 years ago
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step-hent wrote:

This is the fundamental issue with road safety for cyclists - people assume that low speed collisions for cyclists have the same risk as low speed collisions for cars. While people (and in particular, those in government and in the judiciary) continue to operate on that assumption, the ignorance of cycle and safety and the poor enforcement of the law will continue.

Spot on step-hent.

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