A 78-year-old motorist who killed a cyclist taking part in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain in September 2014 has been told it would be inappropriate to jail him as a result of his age.
Mother-of-two Sally Preece, aged 49 and from Cheltenham, died in hospital the day after she was hit by a Volvo S40 driven by Kenneth McClelland on the A85 in Glen Ogle, Perthshire.
She was on the seventh day of the nine-day mass participation ride from Land's End to John O'Groats when the wing mirror of the car caught her handlebars. She was also struck by the wheel of a bike attached to the back of the vehicle, with force of the collision catapulting her more than 30 metres, reports STV.
McLelland, who was returning from a caravan trip with his wife, had been overtaking a camper van and another car at the time of the crash. The driver of that second vehicle, a Renault Clio, said she had thought of overtaking the camper van just beforehand, but did not consider it safe to do so.
Ann Orr, prosecuting, told Stirling Sheriff Court that McLelland should have seen Mrs Preece. “It was the opinion of both collision investigators that the collision was caused by the accused, who carried out an overtaking manoeuvre by pulling out without checking it was clear to do so," she added.
The motorist, who is a retired civil engineer and reportedly suffers from arthritis and angina, pleaded guilty at his trial last month to causing Mrs Preece’s death by dangerous driving, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years' imprisonment.
Speaking in mitigation, his solicitor Alexander Currie said his client "tendered his condolences" to the victim’s family, and that “over the past 14 or 15 months he has only been able to imagine how bereft they are at the loss of their dear one.
"He has no real recollection of passing the Renault,” he added. When he did see Mrs Preece it was too late to avoid contact. He was travelling at about 45mph.
"He will punish himself for the rest of his life for what he has done. A man who was once energetic and easy going is now subdued and introverted as a direct result of this," he added.
Passing sentence, Sheriff William Gilchrist told McClelland: "These were tragic events, obviously for Mrs Sally Preece, but also for her family.
"I have read victim impact statements from her husband, her mother and her father and it is quite clear, as it inevitably would be, that they are suffering terribly as a result of the loss of Sally.
"The consequences of your driving that day were the most serious – they resulted in a fatality.
"However, given your age, I do not think it would be appropriate to impose a short period of imprisonment, which would be essentially a matter of weeks.”
Ordering him to perform 300 hours of unpaid work, the sheriff said: "I am therefore going to employ a community disposal as an alternative to custody.
"Your failure to see Mrs Preece was not momentary. You should have seen her. Two drivers preceding you saw her and one driver behind you saw her. But I accept there is genuine remorse."
McLelland was also banned from driving for five years and will have to retake a driving test before getting his licence back.
According to STV, Mrs Preece’s husband Phil “looked dumbstruck” when it was revealed that McLelland would not be going to jail and he declined to comment after the sentence was handed down.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.