The family of a cyclist killed by a driver found guilty of killing two riders on nearby stretches of road nearly 30 years apart have called for tough sentencing to stop there being a third tragedy.
The family of George Dalgity, the first victim of Gary McCourt, in 1986, say that "losing him left a huge gap in their lives", and spoke of their shock that McCourt had gone on to kill another cyclist, Audrey Fyfe, in Edinburgh in August 2011.
George died from massive injuries eight days after McCourt knocked him off his bike in Regent Road. McCourt was found guilty of careless driving and sentenced to two years, but the Dalgitys believe he only served eight months.
At his most recent trial, McCourt had admitted “clipping” the rear wheel of Mrs Fyfe’s bike at the junction of Portobello Road and Craigentinny Avenue in August 2011. The victim had been returning home from her daughter’s house.
George's 80-year-old mother, Liz, told the Scotsman: “We were always a family that cycled. And George [senior] taught them both to cycle and drummed road safety into them from an early age,” says Liz. “They were never out at night without lights. George once cycled to Shetland, and Ann and her dad did Land’s End to John O’Groats. They were used to being on the roads.
“But Regent Road is a very wide road, and quiet at nights, and I think that attracted a lot of boy racers years ago. We were told that after George was hit that McCourt didn’t stop, the police had to go looking for him. We were also told he didn’t have a licence or insurance. All we know is that losing him left a huge gap in our lives.”
His sister Ann said: “We don’t want to intrude on the grief of the Fyfe family, and we hope they will not be further hurt, but we do believe that he [McCourt] should receive a very stiff sentence this time around. That’s two people he has killed through careless driving – we don’t want there to be a third and it would seem he didn’t learn his lesson."
George was 22 when he died.
In court this year, McCourt described how he saw Audrey, aged 75, “somersault” through the air, but denied having committed a criminal offence.
Following his latest conviction, deputy procurator fiscal Lesley Smith revealed his criminal record to the court, saying; “He was convicted in 1986 of causing death by reckless driving.”
Sentencing will take place on 3 May, pending reports on McCourt’s character.
George's mother Liz said: “It never leaves you. It becomes part of your life. We don’t want vengeance or to be vindictive, but it seems to us that this man has no remorse for what he’s done – twice now – or he would have pleaded guilty and not put another family through a trial.
“We were angry about his sentence at the time – it seemed so short. Then we were told he was out after eight months. We couldn’t believe it.
“We’re writing to the sheriff before he hands out the sentence because we want to make him – and others – aware of the severity of what he’s done,” says Ann. “And we want to make the roads safer for everyone. A long jail sentence would, we hope, make others think twice about careless driving. It’s not just an accident. We’re still living it.”
After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.