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Crown Office to appeal "unduly lenient" sentence for double cyclist killer Gary McCourt

Back to court for driver given community service and five year driving ban for killing Audrey Fyfe

Scotland's Crown Office is to appeal the "unduly lenient" sentence handed down to motorist Gary McCourt for causing the death of cyclist Audrey Fife in August 2011, who it emerged was the second cyclist he had killed while driving.

McCourt's sentence, 300 hours community service and a five year driving ban, came despite calls for a custodial sentence from the families of both the cyclists he had killed.

Mrs Fyfe's widower, John described the sentence as "beyond comprehension" and  national cyclists' organisation, the CTC said it "scandalous" and launched a campaign for the sentence to be reviewed, 6000 people wrote to the Lord Advocate's office calling for the Crown to Appeal.

In a statement announcing news of the appeal, the Crown Office said:

"In cases of a serious nature, Crown Counsel will often consider whether the sentence imposed is within the range available to the sheriff in the exercise of his or her discretion.

"Following careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case against Gary McCourt by Crown Counsel, we can confirm that the Crown will be lodging an appeal against the sentence on the grounds that it was unduly lenient.

"The family of Mrs Fyfe have been kept advised of this decision and we will continue to update them as to any significant developments in the appeal process.

After his conviction and prior to sentencing it was revealed that McCourt had previously served a prison sentence for causing the death of another cyclist, George Dalgity in 1985. However, when sentencing McCourt earlier this month Sheriff James Scott did not choose to regard McCourt's earlier conviction as an aggravating factor worthy of influencing the sentence he handed down for causing Mrs Fyfe's death. It was the Sheriff's view that the collision occurred when McCourt "momentarily" lost concentration and that while "Mrs Fife wasn't in any way to blame for the accident" in his view the fact that she wasn't wearing a helmet contributed to her death. McCourt had admitted to police that he had "clipped" Mrs Fife's bike.

As part of the appeal process Sheriff Scott will now have to submit a report outlining why he thought 300 hours of community service and a five year driving ban was an appropriate sentence for a second offence resulting in the death of a cyclist through dangerous driving.

The leniency of the sentence caused outraged comment amongst both the cycling community and in the Scottish media with many questioning not only the non-custodial nature of the sentence but the fact that McCourt was given a five year driving ban rather than a life ban given that two fatalities were directly attributable to his poor driving. Writing on the website earlier this week, Mrs Fyfe's daughter, Aileen Brown made the point that driving is not a right and that sentencing policy needed to reflect that.

Speaking for the CTC, which backed the Fyfe family in seeking an appeal of the sentence with a letter writing campaign, Donald Urquhart, Secretary of CTC Scotland, said: “The decision of the Crown to appeal the sentence is welcomed by CTC/CTC Scotland and is, we believe, a reflection of the significant levels of concern expressed by cyclists of the leniency of the original sentence. It is essential that the Courts provide an appropriate degree of protection to all vulnerable road users and that that is reflected in the sentences handed down when careless and dangerous driving has been proved.”'s founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.

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brandobiker | 10 years ago

I also signed it

edster99 | 10 years ago

Any other walk of life where you caused two separate deaths through negligence (i.e. building site, etc) theres no doubt you'd be inside. WTF is the difference!!! I know i'm preaching to the converted but even so.

Cyclic | 10 years ago

Good news, I was one of the 6000 and I hope justice is done this time.

hairyairey | 10 years ago

I was one of the 6,000 or so who signed the petition so I'm delighted with this result. I'll be very interested to read the justification for such a light sentence.

Gkam84 | 10 years ago

About time the courts in this country were brought to account for their sentencing.

It might even bring about a change in the guidelines for sentencing in these types of cases.

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