A driver whose conviction for causing the death by dangerous driving in August 2008 of top Northern Ireland cyclist David McCall was overturned earlier this year has pleaded guilty at his retrial to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving. He will be sentenced next month, reports the Belfast Telegraph and could face a jail term of up to three years.
In March 2010, Antrim Crown Court sentenced motorist Gerard Croome to five years’ imprisonment after he had been found guilty of causing the death of Mr McCall by dangerous driving.
At the trial, 28-year-old Croome, from Liverpool, admitted that he had been rushing to the Belfast International Airport to catch a flight, and said that father of two Mr McCall, who was taking part in a race, had swerved to avoid a small dog.
The 46-year-old cyclist, a Commonwealth Games medallist, worked as a civil servant but continued to be involved in cycling and had recently qualified as a commissaire.
The force of the impact broke Mr McCall’s bike in two, with the cyclist thrown from his bike and suffering fatal injuries. Witnesses said that Croome, who did not stop immediately but returned to the scene shortly afterwards, had been driving aggressively.
In January, the Court of Appeal quashed that verdict and ordered a retrial as a result of his lawyers arguing that there were sufficient differences in witness accounts to give rise to a sense of unease or doubt about the verdict.
At Croome’s initial trial, it was revealed that he had twice been convicted of speeding prior to Mr McCall’s death, and twice again afterwards.
Judge Norman Lockie, passing sentence at that original trial, remarked upon Croome’s apparent lack of remorse, while it was also revealed through pre-sentencing reports that he had not accepted the jury’s verdict and continued to protest his innocence.
On the second day of Croome’s retrial this week, once again at Antrim Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.
According to current sentencing guidelines, the maximum sentence that can be imposed for a conviction on that charge in a case that “borders on dangerous driving” is three years’ imprisonment.
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