Cyclist killer Gary McCourt: Crown loses appeal against 'lenient' sentence

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  • Cyclist killer Gary McCourt: Crown loses appeal against 'lenient' sentence
  • trail_rat
    Member

    thats poor justice at best.

    asshat

    pondo
    Member

    Shocking. But sadly not surprising.

    Premier Icon MSP
    Subscriber

    the judiciary are frightened to grasp the nettle and make decisions which would make our country a safer place to live

    Pretty much sums up the laws beholden attitude to the car lobby.

    Premier Icon AndyRT
    Subscriber

    I am shocked. What was the judge thinking.

    Premier Icon eddie11
    Subscriber

    What was the judge thinking? Anyone got a link to their reasoning?

    nbt
    Member

    This is a sad day for the british justice system

    Is a life ban an option for someone convicted of causing death by careless driving? I suspect we should blame the law, not the judges.

    bigG
    Member

    That’s a flipping outrage, sorry I’m usually much more literate but I’m genuinely at a loss for words to sum up how I feel.

    Edit – Apologies for swearing, but this one got me just too worked up.

    Is a life ban an option for someone convicted of causing death by careless driving? I suspect we should blame the law, not the judges.

    Same judge

    Sheriff says 90 year-old Lady Risk is no risk to drivers

    Junkyard
    Member

    I think when you have killed two folk by dangerous driving then surely a revoke of your licence and a custodial sentence is in order- the former being important to stop a third.

    Why did he get time for the first one he killed but not the second?

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    From here
    On indictment – 5 years imprisonment,
    On summary trial – 6 months imprisonment.
    Minimum mandatory disqualification -12 months.
    Mandatory endorsement 3 -11 points.
    Discretionary re-test (s.36(4) RTOA 1988

    Can’t seem to find maximum ban. 5 years does not seem a lot and while custodial for poor driving is debatable I think killing a second person on the roads would start pointing towards jailtime.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    The judge at the trial for his second conviction, whose sentence was being questioned here, was controversial too.

    All a bit mad after that guy got 10 months prison for throwing a piece of bacon into a mosque in Edinburgh.

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Subscriber

    But defence advocate Herbert Kerrigan QC said the sheriff had used his common sense and the sentence could not be criticised.

    McCourt had been travelling at a slow speed and had clipped the back of Mrs Fyfe’s wheel, after which she toppled over, Mr Kerrigan said.

    “The fact of the matter is she chose not to wear a safety helmet, which she was perfectly entitled to do,” he said.Incredible that we are still faced with that mind-set.

    Sancho
    Member

    how can not wearing a helmet contribute to your death thats total bolx.

    being run over by a vehicle contributes to your death.

    im not wearing a helmet now is so doing contributing to my death whenever it comes this kind of statement is totally stupid and should not be allowed to be used in court to allow lenient sentencing or a cop out for the killer.

    brakes
    Member

    “Despite the sheriff’s error in treating the fact that Mrs Fyfe was not wearing a cycle helmet as a mitigatory factor, we are unable to say that the sentence of a community payback order with the maximum number of unpaid hours was unduly lenient.”

    is there a scale of punishment based on how fast you were going and how heavily you ‘clipped’ the person you killed?

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    Maybe someone should hit mr kerrigan over the head with a blunt object and see if they could get leniency coz he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

    Premier Icon kcal
    Subscriber

    @scotroutes, true. Really smacks of “they were asking for it” mentality.

    Does seems mixed message in the defence QC’s statement though, accepting “she was entitled to” and yet raising that very point as well.

    An unenviable profession in many ways being a defence lawyer :/ Wouldn’t suit me for one. The more high profile they get (I’m thinking e.g. Beltrami, Findlay) the more I’d be prejudiced against their client!

    vorlich
    Member

    Link

    I was hopeful the appeal would be successful. Some justice… 🙄

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    It’s quite easy to start foaming at the mouth about this one isn’t it…

    What is evident is that Driving isn’t Gary McCourt’s Strong suit, whether by inattention or malice his current average is two dead cyclists for every ~27 years behind the wheel (Probably less if you factor time served / previous driving ban, anyone know about those?)…

    Anyway he’s already proven he can kill more people than the average UK motorist I can’t see a compelling argument for him ever being allowed back behind the wheel, especially this:

    Addressing the length of McCourt’s driving ban, the judges said: “Notwithstanding the previous conviction in 1986, we are unable to agree with the Solicitor General’s submission that this is inadequate to provide sufficient protection to the public.

    Eh? A five year ban only protects the public from Gary’s unique style of motoring for five years, a lifetime ban would actually protect the public from a proven dangerous driver who’s apparently not learned from his previous mistakes, and in five years will probably be a bit more “rusty”.

    As for giving him a custodial sentence, I think that’s quite a different issue and comes down to an understanding of his intent and the way in which he was driving, is he an aggressive driver or just extremely dozy/ blind? the detail of that I’ve not read about in anything written about this case…

    The weight placed on helmet use in the original sentencing is something that should have been addressed more thoroughly. It feels like the judiciary have adopted the wider public perception of helmets as a compulsory, injury limiting force field. rather than an individuals choice, without any legal compulsion (Yet)…

    tpbiker
    Member

    cookeaa, agree 100%. Driving isn’t a right for anyone. Regardless of intent if you have proven twice that you are incompetent and its resulted in a death then you should never ever be allowed behind a wheel again, its a no brainer.

    I personally feel if you kill though reckless/careless/dangerous driving you should automatically be banned for life. If we had this rule then we’d have at least one more cyclist still alive.

    Given this moron lives in Edinburgh is there a petition we can start of some description, or do I just need to sit and fume about it….

    Premier Icon Sanny
    Subscriber

    I just find this utterly depressing. Two lives have been taken by this idiot. Why are we as a society affording him the opportunity to drive ever again? It seems that the right to drive exceeds the right to life. I have nothing but sympathy for the families of the two victims. The appeal court has succeeded only in making things worse for them.

    edlong
    Member

    Just going from the news report, my sense is that, while the outcome might be what the family, or interested cyclists (and their families) might have wanted, it’s not all bad:

    1) The appeal ruling explicitly stated that the helmet thing was out of order and shouldn’t have featured in the original judgement. This is good.

    2) The very fact that there was an appeal, and all the news coverage it has had, including the extensive coverage of the disappointment of the family and prosecutor, is a good thing. The ruling might not have gone the “right” way but at least the prosecutors were willing to take it to appeal, and the publicity will mean there will be at least a few “water cooler” conversations going on right now up and down the country about the matter. Maybe someone who has read the news article over lunchtime might have it pop into their mind as they’re driving home tonight, and give a cyclist a little bit more room as they pass..

    At the end of the day, the people making the rulings on these things have access to all of the evidence, not just the bits that the media cherry pick for their brief articles, and also a much greater knowledge of the law, and of its application. They’re humans, and fallible, but that’s why there are appeals processes available.

    noid
    Member

    There is no upper limit on driving bans. However even if banned for “life” then after a long period (5 yrs?) you can apply to the court to show that you have ‘reformed’ and deserve it back – so a longer sentence ban not have had any real difference. The extended retest is supposed to provide the protection that incompetent people don’t get back on the roads.

    The Sheriff gave a reasonable explanation for not imprisoning at the original trial. You may not agree with that but the Appeal court clearly didn’t think it was fundamentally flawed reasoning.

    However if you want to change the future you need to get parliament to LEGISLATE not have lip service debates – Judges are supposed to be immune to political interference which means until there is a law for them to apply the existing ones are what they use.

    rickt
    Member

    Very sad indeed and my heart goes out to the families.

    Just a sideline point regarding the helmet, I dont know what the injuries where, but that could be the main factor of the death ? Therefore the cyclist should have a duty of care to protect them self.

    Just like if you was driving without your seatbelt and went through the windscreen if someone else drove into you? Would that other person be charged with death by dangerous driving?? Maybe not……

    Premier Icon bruneep
    Subscriber

    I found out a long time ago there is no justice within the legal system just courts of law.

    The law is an ass

    Premier Icon tomhoward
    Subscriber

    Bit leftfield and totally not the point but in 5 years, or ever, is any insurance company going to allow this bloke to even think about asking them for a quote?

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    Therefore the cyclist should have a duty of care to protect them self.

    no, just as you don’t have a duty of care to wear a stab vest just in case some nutter decides to knife you in the heart.

    Seatbelt analogy is moot, seatbelts are required by law helmets aren’t (currently, I know many people wish otherwise)

    edlong
    Member

    Just like if you was driving without your seatbelt and went through the windscreen if someone else drove into you? Would that other person be charged with death by dangerous driving?? Maybe not…

    Actually, they probably would, it’s one of the inconsistencies of the system that the impact / outcome impacts on the disposal, outside of the control of the behaviour of the offender. An example:

    Gary Hart fell asleep at the wheel, after staying up all night. His vehicle went off the M62, down an embankment, onto a train line and caused a train crash which killed several people. He got five years for causing death by dangerous driving.

    I used to work with a guy who did exactly the same, stayed up all night, drove, fell asleep, went off the road. No injuries. He got a fine and some points.

    The offending behaviour in the two cases was pretty much exactly the same.

    Junkyard
    Member

    The extended retest is supposed to provide the protection that incompetent people don’t get back on the roads

    Personally I think two deaths for the same offence is enough for me to realise the protection we need is to revoke the licence

    brakes
    Member

    and make him eat it, poo it out and permanently wear it in an egg cup superglued to his head.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    Just a sideline point regarding the helmet, I dont know what the injuries where, but that could be the main factor of the death ? Therefore the cyclist should have a duty of care to protect them self.

    Just like if you was driving without your seatbelt and went through the windscreen if someone else drove into you? Would that other person be charged with death by dangerous driving?? Maybe not……

    As above, seat belts are compulsory, and motorists have a duty of care to other road users regardless of their head attire. To claim the absence of a helmet is a mitigating factor misses the point spectacularly.

    Find me the Road traffic act passage or any other currently enacted law that states cyclist must wear a helmet on UK roads please.

    Mrs Fyfe did nothing wrong or illegal she was stuck by a motor vehicle operatated in an incorrect manner, and she died.

    What point were McCourt’s defence team trying to make in raising the issue of her non-use of a helmet?

    Were they claiming that he wouln’t have hit her if she’d worn a helmet?

    Or suggesting that she may not have died as a result of the incident, and hence Gary would have only been facing causing injury (rather than death) charges?

    Basically they were seeking to get the case tried and sentenced on a “what if” basis rather than the actual facts, and the Sheriff essentially went along…

    tpbiker
    Member

    ^
    agreed. If the guy has an ounce of remorse he should hand back his licence and never sit behind a wheel again.

    edlong
    Member

    Personally I think two deaths for the same offence is enough for me to realise the protection we need is to revoke the licence

    The thing is, with very, very few exceptions these cases of drivers doing stupid, dangerous things that cause cyclists to die are lapses by drivers who didn’t set out to cause harm. There are many, many more lapses where the driver is more fortunate and there isn’t a cyclist riding along as they stray into the bike lane, pull out at a junction without looking properly, or whatever. You may have had a momentary lapse like that, I might have, we all might have. Without anything bad happening as a consequence, we may well not even know it happened. If you do something that counts as dangerous driving, you will and should be prosecuted accordingly, causing death by, the same.

    Then sometimes, circumstances come together and there is a cyclist present when someone is glued to their satnav, or on the phone or whatever. As with anything like that, you will get clustering. The fact is, there is no evidence that I’ve seen reported (and I accept that I’m relying on the media filters and I’ve not read the court transcripts) to suggest that the fact that this fella’s lapses have led to colliding with two cyclists causing devastating consequences is anything other than coincidence, no evidence that he is a worse, more dangerous, more wilfully dangerous driver than the many, many other drivers I see day in and day out who do stupid things but have, so far, been lucky enough not to have caused something dramatic to happen.

    I refer to my earlier example – is my former colleague any less of a danger to other road users than Gary Hart? No, he’s just got better luck. Once.

    People who aren’t safe to be driving shouldn’t be allowed to drive. But if you make the decisions on who that is based on outcomes, then all you do is ban the dangerous, unlucky drivers.

    I guess what I’m saying is that the potential penalty for dangerous driving should probably be the same as that for causing death by, since the difference between the two is most often going to be down to luck. And multiple offences should be seen in the same way – two dangerous driving offences should be viewed the same as two death bys, and if that would attract a long or lifetime ban, then great, but don’t let’s go any easier on the serial dangerous drivers simply because they’ve been more lucky so far..

    Premier Icon Bunnyhop
    Subscriber

    i’ve had to stop reading threads like this.
    it’s so depressing and i feel my blood pressure start to rise.

    so sad for the relatives of both victims.

    Junkyard
    Member

    are lapses by drivers who didn’t set out to cause harm

    I agree he has not committed murder but it is also clear he cannot meet the standards required as the two deaths demonstrate

    I am also fairly sure the dead bodies make him a worse driver rather than “just like us but unlucky ” as you seem to suggest.

    The consequences of your act also play a part in how you are punished. I could shootyou and you live or you die – i did try to kill you but i wont get th esame sentence. I dont want to get side tracked on that but it is reasonable that the consequences play a aprt in the sentence IMHO.
    Killing some one once is damn bad luck, killing two people would tend to suggest you are a piss poor driver who has failed to learn the lesson
    To use your mate – ever fallen asleep at the wheel since?
    if they do it again is this worse than the first time?They failed to learn a lesson and someone else has paid for this with their life?

    Premier Icon cookeaa
    Subscriber

    edlong makes very good points, that consequences do drive the severity of sentencing to a certain extent, but to push for a sentence that is more appropriate to lesser consequences on the grounds that the victims PPE wasn’t what general opinion (not law remember) believes it should be is a piss take.

    Determining intent is the tricky one, Mobile phone use is my pet hate, the recent “shake up” of Traffic policing bumped the fine for that from £60 to £100, but the points awarded remain the same (three), the potential consequences of using a phone behind the wheel are still as severe as Drink, Drug or Snoozy driving, so why the variation in endorsements?

    I believe there’s a degree of “Accepted deviation” or “lapses” from the letter of road traffic law these days that is seen as basically acceptable by far too many – a bit of speeding here and there, taking the odd phone call, driving when you’re a bit knackered, forgetting to look at a junction now and then, all so long as the rozzers don’t get you, is apparently fine.

    People seem to willfully ignore the reason why we have these rules on the roads, its for the prevention of property damage, injuries an most importantly deaths in road traffic incidents, not the apportioning of blame after they happen…

    edlong
    Member

    Well, yes, killing two cyclists could suggest a piss poor driver etc. but, being dispassionate, it could just be “bad luck”. Or, to put it another way, if one or both of the cyclists had survived, would that have made the driving that caused the accidents less dangerous? Not necessarily. It might have just been that a trauma surgeon happened to be walking past and made all the difference to the outcome. Should the driver face a lesser penalty because of that?

    As I said, I’ve not seen all the evidence in this recent case so I can’t give a reasonable judgement either way, well I could, but it would be worthless.

    I may be wrong about this, but aren’t the sentencing parameters for murder and attempted murder the same? Again, they should be since the only difference between the two offences may well be down to luck.

    I agree that repeat offences should certainly be a factor in sentencing, lengths of bans etc. BUT I think that should be about the driver’s behaviour more than the results. To illustrate my thinking, another example, hypothetical this time:

    Driver A: Doing 80 on a 60 mph road with good visibility, etc. Takes a curve slightly wrong, drifts across the centre line, causes an accident, someone dies.

    Driver B: Doing 50 in a 30 mph zone, past a primary school at 3.15 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon in the rain. Swerves to try and avoid a group of children on a zebra crossing that he’s not noticed while he’s lighting a big spliff, loses control, ploughs into a garden. No serious injuries.

    I know who I’d like to see banned from the roads for longer…

    edlong
    Member

    Okay, and now, the same example, but:

    Driver B (who has only held a licence for six months) has no prior convictions.

    Driver A was convicted of speeding thirteen years ago.

    I’ve not changed my opinion of who should be taken off the roads for a long, long time.

    Junkyard
    Member

    if one or both of the cyclists had survived, would that have made the driving that caused the accidents less dangerous? Not necessarily.

    Face palm

    I think the part where they kill you, rather than you live, does indeed make one more dangerous than the other and I can see no credible way to argue otherwise tbh.
    Your surgeon example is tenuous in the extreme tbh.
    I dont think you are trolling { i hope not tbh] but its getting close and quite distasteful tbh.

    I may be wrong about this, but aren’t the sentencing parameters for murder and attempted murder the same? Again, they should be since the only difference between the two offences may well be down to luck.

    NO ans the consequences of your act [ attempted murder] do have a bearing on your sentence, your just wrong basically.
    http://sentencingcouncil.judiciary.gov.uk/docs/Attempted_Murder_-_Definitive_Guideline_(web)accessible.pdf

    Murder is mandatory life so again wrong.
    I would want A and B banned. B may get a longer ban A may get a custodial sentence as they have just killed someone and both were dangerous driving for different reasons. B may have been “lucky” no one died and B unlucky but I [a nd the law] cannot ignore the death in the sentence even if you can
    Its like arguing that If i hit you with bat the amount of damage i do to you is irrelevant as its just the act that counts – again the law disagrees. If you still dont understand why then hopefully someone else can explain it better as I am out of this

    edlong
    Member

    No, not trolling (well not deliberately). If, for example, someone drives through a junction without looking then, in my opinion, they are driving dangerously and should be punished accordingly. Whether someone happens to be coming the other way, or happens not to be coming the other way, doesn’t make the driver’s behaviour better or worse, and I don’t think they should be punished any differently.

    I accept that you are right about the sentencing being different for murder / attempted. I just don’t agree that it should be.

    As for my example of a passing surgeon being tenuous, I don’t think so. I’ve read plenty of news reports where either something has fortunately not had tragic consequences “If there had been someone walking past when that sign collapsed, they’d have been killed” and, indeed the converse where, for example, someone was walking past when a sign collapsed, and were killed. “Freak accidents” – there’s plenty of them in the news, all the time…

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    intent (or stupidity in the case of negligence) and outcome both matter.

    Do something stupid/illegal and get caught you get punished
    Do something stupid/illegal and kill someone you get punished more severely, it’s a deterrent aswell as punishment

    I hit you I get charged with assault, I hit you, you trip, fall bang your head and die I get charged with manslaughter. The intent in both was to slap you round the chops in the second scenario I may have been “unlucky” but I still killed someone.

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Subscriber

    Very disappointed with this decision, would like to find a proper summary of the facts and reasoned judgements.

    Well done the CTC/CDF for helping fund this, even though I haven’t agreed with all their recent campaigns, this one was too important to ignore.

    tpbiker
    Member

    I think the part where they kill you, rather than you live, does indeed make one more dangerous than the other and I can see no credible way to argue otherwise tbh.

    really? I think his point was fairly clear, if I have 2 identical collisions in identical circumstances, one knocks the cyclist to the left and he lands in a bush, and one knocks him to the right and his head lands on a rock and he dies, then my actions in the cause of those accidents is the same and thus equally dangerous. The consequence of my dangerous actions is what has changed.

    Doesn’t change my opinion that he should never ever be getting behind the wheel of a car again however.

    Junkyard
    Member

    The point at which they have different outcomes the scenarios are no longer identical.
    As DONK says both intent and outcome are factors in sentencing.
    You are both free to disagree but the law disagrees with you both and rightly so IMHO. The different consequences are still an effect of the “identical” incidents and you will be sentenced accordingly ie based on what you did and what happened.

    brakes
    Member

    to extrapolate, if the cyclist wasn’t there but you were still driving without paying attention, should you be prosecuted and sentenced the same as if he were?

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