A judge told a County Down motorist who killed a cyclist he saw “no point” in jailing him as the maximum sentence meant he would be “out in six weeks.” William Lappin was instead sentenced to 100 hours community service and a 12-month driving ban for causing the death of Stephen Lynch by careless driving.
The BBC reports that Lynch, a father-of-five, died at the scene when he was hit by Lappin on the Bangor Road in Newtownards shortly before 5.50am on October 6, 2016.
A forensic accident investigator concluded that Lappin had struck the back wheel of the bike while travelling at around 50mph in the 70mph zone. There was no evidence that he had tried to brake prior to the impact.
While there was street lighting and Lynch had a light on the front of his bike, there was no rear light.
The accident investigator said Lappin would have had a view of Lynch's bike from 62 metres, a distance he would have covered in 2.8 seconds.
Lappin told police he was blowing his nose at the time of the impact and didn't see Lynch.
District Judge Mark Hamill said that given Lappin’s guilty plea, "in effect the maximum sentence is three months... even if I throw the book at him."
He said: "What's the point in sending a man like this to prison for three months? He will be out in six weeks. I'm just not going to do it. I may outrage the family, I don't know, but I'm just not going to do it."
Hamill added: "These cases are desperately, desperately sad, but the courts cannot turn the clock back to make things right."
He said the case should serve as a warning of the dangers of inattention.
"Anybody in this court room who is a driver can be guilty of inattention, a moment of carelessness. Anyone could end up in the same position of Mr Lappin following a few seconds' inattention."