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Killer driver McCourt’s sentence ‘unduly lenient’

Gary McCourt, who has twice been convicted for causing the death of cyclists through careless driving. Picture: Neil Hanna

Gary McCourt, who has twice been convicted for causing the death of cyclists through careless driving. Picture: Neil Hanna

The sentence of a motorist convicted of killing a cyclist was “unduly lenient”, a court has been told.

• A motorist sentenced to a five-year driving ban and 300 hours of community service has been told his conviction was “unduly lenient”

• Gary McCourt was convicted of causing the death of cyclist Audrey Fyfe by careless driving, and was also convicted of causing the death of a cyclist in 1986

Prosecutors are appealing the sentence of Gary McCourt, who was found guilty in April of causing the death of Audrey Fyfe by driving carelessly.

The 75-year-old died two days after McCourt clipped the back wheel of her bike in Edinburgh in August 2011.

McCourt, who was 49 when sentenced in April, was banned from driving for five years and ordered to carry out 300 hours of community service by Sheriff James Scott.

At the end of his trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, it emerged he was jailed for two years after being convicted in 1986 of causing another cyclist’s death by reckless driving.

George Dalgity, 22, was killed as he cycled along Edinburgh’s Regent Road on October 18 1985.

Cycling groups and Mrs Fyfe’s family criticised Sheriff Scott’s sentencing and the Crown lodged an appeal on the grounds it was not tough enough.

A hearing took place before three judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh today.

The trial sheriff had erred in applying the sentencing guidelines, resulting in an unduly lenient sentence, Solicitor General Lesley Thomson said.

He had been wrong to reach the conclusion that the accident had been the result of “momentary inattention” on the part of McCourt, the court was told.

McCourt had admitted he had manoeuvred before looking, and his failure to carry out the most basic principle of driving had directly resulted in the accident, Ms Thomson said.

The sheriff was wrong to take into account the fact that Mrs Fyfe was not wearing a cycle helmet, she said.

No evidence had been led about the effectiveness of wearing a helmet and the sheriff had “entirely formed his own view” on the matter.

There was “extremely controversial and disputed” scientific and medical research in the area and it was not clear cut, the court was told.

Mrs Fyfe was not at all to blame and it was wrong to suggest that the lack of a helmet had contributed to her death or was a mitigating factor for McCourt, Ms Thomson said.

Insufficient weight had also been placed on McCourt’s previous conviction for killing another cyclist.

“There is no indication how he considered the public was going to be protected from this particular driver who had killed twice,” she said.

SEE ALSO

Crown move to appeal Gary McCourt sentence hailed

 
 
 

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