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Appeal considered in Audrey Fyfe case, daughter says allowing motorist to drive again "beyond comprehension"

Victim's daughter also calls for tougher sentencing in cases in which victim is a cycilst...

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COFPS) in Scotland has said it is giving “"careful consideration" to the issue of appealing the sentence last week handed down to motorist Gary McCourt for causing the death of Edinburgh cyclists Audrey Fyfe, on the grounds that it is “unduly lenient.“

McCourt, who had been found guilty of causing the death through reckless driving of another cyclist in 1986, was given a 300 hour community sentence as well as a five-year ban from driving.

Mrs Fyfe’s daughter described the fact that he will be back driving in five years as “beyond comprehension” and has called for tougher sentencing in cases where the victim is a cyclist.

McCourt had denied the charge of causing the death in August 2012 of Mrs Fyfe, aged 75, through careless driving, although he admitted that he had “clipped” her rear wheel.

Mrs Fyfe’s daughter Aileen Brown, a member of Bath Cycling Club who sometimes accompanied her mother on cycle touring holidays in Europe, told BBC News Scotland: “When he killed mum, he didn't take one life away, he destroyed the lives of our entire family.

"I had prepared myself for the possibility that Gary McCourt wouldn't get a custodial sentence, but the prospect of seeing him driving again in five years is beyond comprehension.

"How many innocent people does he have to kill before his licence is confiscated permanently?"

Speaking of her mother, Ms Brown said: "Mum enjoyed nothing more than a day cycling with family or friends followed by a relaxing swim.

"She had the energy and enthusiasm of a 40-year-old and was an inspiration to everyone she met whether in the cycling community, the Scottish country dance troop, the ramblers or her church friends. She always saw the positives in life."

She added that the family wanted to see tougher sentencing in cases where the victim is a cyclist, something that is the subject of a campaign launched by British Cycling and CTC, among others, last year.

Ms Brown urged that where a temporary ban was enforced, there should be retraining, as well as continuous assessment and monitoring once the driver is back behind the wheel.

"A lifetime ban is the only reasonable outcome for Gary McCourt as he still doesn't appear to acknowledge that his driving skills are inadequate," she insisted.

"His paltry sentence also sends the message to other drivers that killing cyclists is a lesser crime."

She also backed calls for a system of presumed liability to be introduced, an issue that is the subject of a campaign led by law firm Cycle Law Scotland, and supported by organisations including CTC Scotland, Spokes and Pedal on Parliament.

In a column in the Scotsman on Monday, Brenda Mitchell of Cycle Law Scotland said: “[Mrs Fyfe] was the second cyclist killed by McCourt’s careless driving, but in his summing up the judge cited a ‘momentary’ lapse in concentration.

“He even suggested that the cyclist (an experienced bike rider) should have taken greater personal responsibility by wearing a helmet.

“While a civil lawyer, not a criminal one, I am very uneasy about this and the messages it sends out to road users.”

Cycle Law Scotland’s Road Share campaign urges the UK to follow 22 of the EU’s 27 Member States in implementing a system of presumed liability in road traffic incidents, something Mrs Fyfe’s daughter supports.

She said: "If we adopt the European process, for any RTAs involving a cyclist and driver, the assumption is that the driver is at fault unless they can prove otherwise."

Ms Brown concluded: "He has inflicted a lifetime sentence of irreplaceable loss on our family and friends. Sadly, mum won't be back in five years’ time. Our lives will never be the same again."

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.

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