THE family of the first victim of careless driver Gary McCourt, who last week walked free from court after killing a 75-year-old cyclist, have told of their “disgust” at his sentence and anger that their concerns were “completely ignored” by the sheriff.
Ann Dalgity, the sister of George, who died after being knocked from his bicycle by McCourt in 1985, said she and her mother, Liz, were appalled at the “leniency” of the five-year driving ban and 300 hours community service order handed out by Sheriff James Scott.
The sentence was given after McCourt was found guilty of causing the death by careless driving of pensioner Audrey Fyfe in August 2011.
Ms Dalgity said she believed the letter they wrote to Sheriff Scott, giving details of how George died when he was 22, had been ignored – and she expressed outrage that the sheriff claimed McCourt had shown remorse.
“He has never to my knowledge shown any remorse for killing two people,” she said. “He has never apologised to my family for George’s death. And how can he be remorseful if he pleaded not guilty in the first place and put the Fyfe family through that trial?
“If I had done something like this no-one would be in any doubt how sorry I was, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself and I’d certainly never get behind the wheel again.
“To suggest that George’s death shouldn’t be taken into account because of how long ago it was proves that the sheriff just dismissed our letter and our continuing pain at his loss.
“I handed it in personally and was told Sheriff Scott would receive it, but it’s obviously been completely ignored.
“Our letter detailed what happened to George, the injuries he received, and how his death affected our family, but that has obviously counted for nothing. His [McCourt’s] sentence back then was too lenient, and it has happened all over again.
“It’s just disgusting.”
George Dalgity was cycling along Regent Road at 1am on October 18, 1985 when McCourt smashed into him, causing horrific injuries including brain stem damage.
He never regained consciousness and died eight days later. McCourt received a one-year jail term and a ten-year driving ban for careless driving after George’s death.
Audrey Fyfe died on August 11, 2011 after McCourt knocked her from her bike at the junction between Portobello Road and Craigentinny Avenue.
Explaining his sentencing last week, Sheriff Scott said that Mrs Fyfe’s failure to wear a helmet had “contributed significantly” towards her death, that the collision involved “minimal contact” and McCourt’s previous conviction was from “27 years ago”. He also said he took into account McCourt’s remorse over the incident.
But Sheriff Scott had previously sparked anger after sentencing Lady Suzanne Risk to a £200 fine and six points on her licence after she sent Robert Benn, 40, flying off his bike after she failed to see him at a junction in Inverleith Place in October 2009.
The sentence prompted outrage from cycling campaigners.
Ms Dalgity, who can’t believe McCourt could be back behind a wheel one day, said: “We believed it when the sheriff said he would take into account the previous conviction when thinking about sentencing. That’s why we wrote to him to express our feelings about the fact a second person had died as a result of his careless driving.
“Does this sheriff just not like cyclists and have no regard for their safety? To think that he [McCourt] could be back on the roads in five years’ time is just appalling.”
The Crown Office is considering an appeal against the sentence.