Driver spared jail over cyclist’s death in Aberdeen

Neil Jaffrey  suffered 'catastrophic' head injuries when he was hit by out-of-control BMW. Picture: Contributed
Neil Jaffrey suffered 'catastrophic' head injuries when he was hit by out-of-control BMW. Picture: Contributed

A motorist who caused the death of a cyclist by driving carelessly on a busy city road has been spared jail.

Stephen Cocker lost control of his silver BMW while overtaking a bus and ended up careering out of control and hitting father-of-three Neil Jaffrey, who was on his bike at the time.

The 32-year-old suffered “catastrophic” head injuries and died after he was catapulted from the saddle and across Aberdeen’s North Anderson Drive on 7 September, 2014.

Cocker, 51, appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court last month where he admitted causing the cyclist’s death by driving without due care and attention.

Yesterday he was spared jail when he appeared at the court to be sentenced.

Defence agent David Sutherland said his client had not seen the cyclist, who was ahead of the bus, until he was already overtaking the single decker.

He said the “split second” decision Cocker had taken to keep going with his manoeuvre had left him racked with “regret, sorrow and deep remorse”.

Mr Sutherland said: “My client only saw Mr Jaffrey when he was halfway along the bus. He does not see him before then because the bus has hidden him from view.

“There are only two options in that situation. He either passes it or brakes to let the bus pull out.

“Mr Cocker decided to continue with the overtaking manoeuvre and accelerated to do so. That’s when there is a loss of control with tragic consequences. It was a split second decision.”

Mr Sutherland added: “Mr Cocker knows what happened that day will live with him for the rest of his life. He lives with this moment every waking minute.”

He ended up mounting the central reservation then travelled diagonally across the northbound carriageway before colliding with Mr Jaffrey.

Sheriff William Summers said it was “impossible” to ignore Mr Jaffrey’s family’s loss.

But he added that it came down to culpability and he found in the circumstances that jail was not the most appropriate way to deal with the case.

The sheriff said: “This is a sad and tragic case for all concerned.”

Cocker was sentenced to 225 hours of unpaid work in the community as a direct alternative to prison. He was also disqualified from driving for three years.