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Another reason why I love cycling


Lenient Sentencing

Imagine I am responsible for a machine. A dangerous machine that, if operated carelessly, could injure or kill someone. This machine is only operated under the terms of a licence, which the authorities have the right to revoke should I show that I am unable of operating it safely.

Then imagine that I did in fact kill someone through the careless operation of that machine.

Furthermore, imagine that I had previously killed someone else with the same machine.

Do you think I would ever be allowed to operate that machine again?

Well, that’s exactly what happened in the case of Gary McCourt. He killed a cyclist in 1986, and then, in 2011 he killed again, when he killed Audrey Fife, a 75 year old from Edinburgh.

He was found guilty of causing death by careless driving. He received a 5 year driving ban, and 300 hours community service.

How anyone can view this as anything other than a scandalous dereliction of duty by the judge, is beyond me.

I could have accepted a non-custodial sentence, if a lifetime driving ban had been handed down, but this person could be back behind the wheel in 5 years.

Furthermore, the judge made the following astonishing comment in his judgement:

Mrs Fyfe wasn’t to blame in any way for the accident. However, she was not wearing a safety helmet and that, in my view, contributed to her death

A helmet isn’t a legal requirement for cyclists, and there is no evidence from the trial to suggest that it would have helped in this case. This is purely the judge’s opinion, and in my view, is despicable victim-blaming. Would he suggest that a gunshot victim was to blame for their own death because they were not wearing a bulletproof vest?

We urgently need stronger sentencing, and lifetime driving bans, in cases like this.