Driver who killed cyclist in 2am crash walks free

Alastair Dudgeon was killed near the Kincardine Bridge in Fife on 6 January last year
Alastair Dudgeon was killed near the Kincardine Bridge in Fife on 6 January last year
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A MOTORIST who fatally injured a cyclist on an early-morning commute has avoided a jail sentence.

Alastair Dudgeon was killed near the Kincardine Bridge in Fife at about 2am on 6 January last year following a collision with a Vauxhall Astra driven by James Sneddon.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard yesterday that Mr Dudgeon, from High Valleyfield, Fife, regularly cycled to and from his work as a baker at a Tesco store in Camelon, on the outskirts of Falkirk.

Sneddon, 42, phoned an ambulance after his car hit the mountain bike.

Paramedics who went to the scene found no sign of a pulse and the victim was taken to the Forth Valley Royal Hospital at Larbert, Stirlingshire.

Mr Dudgeon was found to have suffered a broken neck, rib fractures and internal injuries, including to the aorta – the main artery from the heart.

The Crown charged Sneddon, from Falkirk, with causing the death of Mr Dudgeon on the A985 between the Longannet roundabout and Kincardine Bridge by driving dangerously, failing to observe the cyclist and colliding with the rear of his bike.

Sneddon had denied the charge and last month a jury found him guilty of the lesser offence of causing death by careless driving, which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.

Yesterday, judge Nigel Morrison, QC, ordered Sneddon to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work under a community payback order.

The judge said: “The death of Alastair Dudgeon at the age of 51 is a tragedy for his family.”

He said Mr Dudgeon’s widow was “devastated” by the loss.

But the judge said he took into account that there had been no deliberate course of bad driving, nor had there been aggravating features such as drinking or using a mobile phone.

He noted that Sneddon had been assessed as posing a very low risk of re-offending.

The customer services adviser told police that he was travelling at 40mph.

One witness said the weather conditions were clear and, although the stretch of road was unlit, visibility was reasonable.

A police constable told the court he could clearly see the red flashing light from the bicycle as he drove to the scene and estimated that he could see it from about 200 metres away.

Advocate depute Bruce Erroch pointed out the Highway Code told drivers to give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as when overtaking a car.

The prosecutor told jurors that if they thought Mr Dudgeon had contributed in some way to his death by not wearing a high-visibility jacket, that was not something that absolved the driver. He said what mattered was that the driver should have seen him well before the collision and taken steps to avoid the cyclist.

Defence counsel Emma Toner said Sneddon recognised the devastating impact the incident had had on the dead man’s family. She said: “He has expressed genuine remorse for having been the cause of their loss.”

She said he was careless in failing to allow sufficient space to overtake the cyclist.

Sneddon was also banned from driving for four years and told he would have to resit a test.