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Community service for driver who killed cyclist on Christmas Day

Keith Halliday's defence team said he had not seen the cyclist whose bike was fitted with front and rear lights and could be seen from 150 metres away...

A man who admitted causing the death of a cyclist has walked away from court with 190 hours of unpaid work, a nine-month curfew, and a 12-month driving disqualification.

At Jedburgh Sheriff Court, Sheriff Peter Paterson described the case as "tragic" but concluded "the court can do little in these circumstances to repair or help" before sparing Keith Halliday a custodial sentence.

Halliday had previously admitted causing the death of Ian Methven on Christmas Day 2020 when he struck the cyclist on the A6105 between Duns and Chirnside.

Mr Methven, 30, had gone out for a Christmas morning ride after opening presents with his partner, but never made it home.

His bike had front and rear lights and the court heard it could be seen from 150 metres away, but Halliday's defence team blamed a loss of concentration for the collision, and argued their client had not seen the cyclist.

The 50-year-old had responded 'no comment' when interviewed by the police, something Mr Methven's father Alan said leads him to the conclusion anything the motorist could have said "would only have made things worse" and "the whole family feels he's getting away with something".

After the fatal collision the cyclist was found dead at the roadside by a passing motorist, his bike 10 metres away with a damaged rear wheel, and had to be identified by his DNA records.

Witnesses reported seeing Halliday sobbing, saying "oh no, oh no", and described him as distressed. The court heard there was no evidence of speeding or mobile phone use.

The police investigation concluded the incident unfolded due to Halliday "failing to carry out sufficient visual checks and failing to react to the presence of Mr Methven on his pedal cycle."

Sheriff Paterson told the court: "With such tragic consequences to measure against a momentary loss of concentration, to balance these two factors out is never easy. But I view a prison sentence is not appropriate in this case. Cases like this are tragic in every sense.

"Tragic that a young man has lost his life. Tragic for his family, and tragic in fairness to Mr Halliday as well who will have to bear with this for the rest of his life. The court can do little in these circumstances to repair or help."

Halliday was ordered to carry out 190 hours of unpaid work and was given a nine-month curfew between the hours of 7pm and 7am. He was also banned from driving for 12 months.

Speaking to Radio Borders outside the court, Alan Methven (Ian's father) told Radio Borders he "doesn't know what to make of the sentence" as, while he did not want Halliday to go to jail, "the fact that he has never said anything makes it very difficult for me to form an opinion."

"I don't understand how the judge can form a proper opinion either, because nobody knows," he added.

"Keith Halliday is the only one who knows why this tragedy happened, and he's refusing to say. So, from that, I can only conclude that had he said anything, he would only have made things worse for himself. And, consequently, the whole family feels he's getting away with something.

"He [Ian Methven] was a great lad. Apart from being my son, he was a really good friend. He was fit, he was healthy, he enjoyed life — and it's just been taken away from him. It's devastated the whole family.

"The fact that it has taken almost two years to get to this stage has not helped. I just really hope we can move on from here, but I really don't know how."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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46 comments

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Gimpl | 1 year ago
0 likes

I'm not quite sure how the judge can ignore the 150m visability bit - it would be easy to work out the time the rider was visible using the NSL for that road as a minimum which should be able to disprove the 'momentary' bit. 

However - I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the sentence is appropriate under the circumstances that we actually know (what the court would be dealing with). As a former Community Service Supervisor I can promise you I used to make them work hard yes so It's not quite the let off that many people think and at the very least they are giving back to the community. I think we can also safely assume that he didn't set out intending to kill someone and whilst we all know it was careless in the extreme; I, personally would not like to see another life ruined any more. 

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Awavey replied to Gimpl | 1 year ago
12 likes

Well maybe this is a wider point on sentencing than this specific case alone, but having just returned from a ride where I'm equally sure no one had set out to harm or kill me, they sure had a funny way of going about showing it.

And I can only conclude people drive in such a carefree dangerous manner around cyclists, because well theres no danger to them if they make a mistake anyway, but the penalties even if they kill the cyclist are practically meaningless, so why put the effort in.

In Suffolk for community service they send people to clear heathlands of invasive species of plant to stop them growing into woodlands. I'd like to think any life, let alone my own, was worth more than 190hrs worth of heathland gardening, that's stuff they make girl guides and scouts do to earn merit badges, not atone for taking someones life.

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cmedred | 1 year ago
11 likes

Can we just be done with judges lamenting the lifetime burden a motorist must bear for running over and killing a cyclist? People are amazingly good at rationalization. I'd expect that by now Mr. Halliday might already have convinced himself it wasn't his fault; that the roads are for motor vehicles, and that there shouldn't have been a cyclist there in the first place. 

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sean1 | 1 year ago
6 likes

If the cyclist was visible for at least 150m that translates into 7 seconds or more.  That is hardly a "momentary lapse" to not see them.  That is more like a "checking Whats App" type lapse.

Amazing comments from the Sheriff who seems to go out of his way to minimise the responsiblity of the driver.  12 month ban is pathetic.

 

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Rendel Harris replied to sean1 | 1 year ago
3 likes
sean1 wrote:

If the cyclist was visible for at least 150m that translates into 7 seconds or more.  That is hardly a "momentary lapse" to not see them.  That is more like a "checking Whats App" type lapse.

Either that or it was a deliberate "buzz" pass gone wrong, there are quite a number of motorists out there who seem to get a kick out of giving cyclists a scare by passing close at high speed on country roads.

Can't the police tell if a phone was being used at the time through forensic analysis, as in the case of the off-duty police officer killed in Wales recently? Doesn't rule out a load of other distractions of course, lighting fags, eating, fiddling with satnav or radio... 

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EddyBerckx | 1 year ago
8 likes

Life ban no question whatsoever, community service and half of what they own paid as compensation to the victims family or similar? If that means they have to sell their house / business whatever then fine? Could make people think a bit more...

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HoarseMann replied to EddyBerckx | 1 year ago
6 likes

I agree, a life ban from driving ought to be considered in cases like this.

They have offered no explanation as to how this happened and therefore no explanation how they could prevent it happening again.

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hawkinspeter replied to EddyBerckx | 1 year ago
1 like
EddyBerckx wrote:

Life ban no question whatsoever, community service and half of what they own paid as compensation to the victims family or similar? If that means they have to sell their house / business whatever then fine? Could make people think a bit more...

Totally agree on the life ban from driving, but increased punishment rarely works as a deterrent. If your driving is poor enough to kill someone, then you shouldn't be allowed back on the road in 2 tonnes of speeding metal.

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IanMK replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
2 likes
hawkinspeter wrote:

If your driving is poor enough to kill someone, then you shouldn't be allowed back on the road in 2 tonnes of speeding metal.

I think we should be trying to promote driving as an exercise in mindfulness. Clear your mind of distractions and concentrate on doing one thing to the best of your ability. If you're being distracted by your phone or life in general then you're not safe on the roads. I know it's not that easy, we all have shit to deal with, but it should be taught in that way. I'm sure most of us can relate to the benefit of cycling as a mindfulness exercise, why not driving.

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IanMK replied to EddyBerckx | 1 year ago
2 likes

I'm not a fan of custodial sentences. They are a drain on the public purse and poor at rehabilitation. In this case it's easy to make sure he doesn't do it again. A lifetime ban.

But his actions may still be a drain on the public purse hence I would also agree with greater reparations. eg if the victim was a father then it would be relatively simple to go to the CSA and make him pay child support.

It's ironic how we are happy to make young people pay, through additional taxation, for making a (good) decision to go into further education but seem to be reluctant to do the same for people making bad decisions (criminal behaviour).

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Beatnik69 | 1 year ago
5 likes

I think a community service sentence along with a twelve hour curfew is a reasonably good sentence. It's better that he has to do something good for society, rather than sitting in a cell at the taxpayers' expense. but a 12 month driving ban is pathetic.

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peted76 | 1 year ago
5 likes

Take a life in a car and walk away with community service, a 12month ban and sympathy from the judge. 

I can't even see any statements or facts which are remotley mitigating here (killer shows remorse is not a mitigating factor).

It's disgusting, something is very wrong if taking a life means a perpretrator can walk away with nothing but 'inconvienience' as punishment.

 

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Doctor Darabuka | 1 year ago
1 like

Similar story. Kill people. Say nothing. Plead guilty. Carry on with your life. 

https://road.cc/content/news/suspended-sentence-careless-driver-287767

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IanMK | 1 year ago
15 likes

I had a real visceral reaction to this story. The simple truth is that anyone of us could go out next Christmas morning and be wiped out never to return to our loved ones. For the judge to be so blase in his sentencing. For the family that will continue to be victims of another mans negligence for so much longer than the sentence. For the guilty man not to make a statement to allow at least some sort of closure. Absolutely sickening.

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chrisonabike replied to IanMK | 1 year ago
7 likes

Yes - as RoadPeace point out "Society tolerates road danger and road crime is not treated as real crime".

It's very unlikely to happen to you personally but statistics suggest that this year, and next year and likely the one after that, over 100 cyclists will die on UK roads.  Most of these will be men, 30-60 years old but both sexes / people of all ages will die.

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Awavey replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
6 likes

Statistics are no comfort though if you happen to be the one that's killed.

Reading about that cyclist who was killed the other day on a road I've ridden enough to probably know the exact location and way it came about, would I have been any luckier placed in the same situation as they were ?

And I know when a rider who was someone I recognised as a person I'd met a few times, not just another name in a newspaper, was killed, every time a car or van approached for a while afterwards I was always thinking is this it? Is this the one that gets me?

As I'm doing all I can to stay safe but are they texting, playing with facebook or just momentarily distracted.

190hrs community service doesnt really seem to fit the crime here,or give confidence to the community at large justice has been served.

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chrisonabike replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
0 likes

Yes.  Ultimately we're not interested in the generalities and statistics.   It's ourselves and our feelings (including feelings for others).  That's also part of why only a few of us are cycling or letting our children cycle anyway.  ("It doesn't feel safe / pleasant around cars" or "I worry about what would happen to my child").

Worse - when someone is killed society will spend more time / money on the perpetrator (still there, needs "dealing with" but also has potential to change / contribute to society) than the victim (dead) or even those who care about them.

That's my motivation for being interested in solutions which avoid this happening in the first place.  Keep the motor vehicles away from the vulnerable road users as much as possible.  Where they must interact impose more controls to make that interaction safer.  That's in addition to driving needing to be taken more seriously.  Which means better training, much greater enforcement (chance of getting caught) and finally the sanctions of the legal system.

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Mungecrundle | 1 year ago
14 likes

Driver kills other road user and refuses to make any statement about the circumstances. Not even a 'sun was in my eyes' type defence.

Judge's conclusion - Well it it must have been a bit of an accident, I'm terribly sorry old chap, these things happen, but my hands are tied and I have no choice but to hand down the minimal sentence to you, now go sweep some litter and think about what you have done.

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ShutTheFrontDawes | 1 year ago
8 likes

Why is the killer banned, but for only 12 months? The judge seems to be if the opinion that the driver did nothing wrong other than lose attention momentarily (not that I would call 150m closing distance a momentary lapse). What is going to happen in that 12 month period to reduce the risk to other road users? They will be MORE of a danger in 12 months time if anything!

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David9694 | 1 year ago
11 likes

killer driver walks free - every bloody week 

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steaders1 | 1 year ago
6 likes

When will sentences be seen as a deterrent? This is a slap on the wrist and as near as getting off scott free. Courts need to lock these people up and maybe then others will see that there is a proper punishment that is in relation the to seriousness of their crime, Disgusting waste of tax payers money for a pathetic sentence

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Muddy Ford | 1 year ago
10 likes

An average of 2.5 pedestrians are killed in collision with a cyclist every year.

In 2021 - 2 cyclists are jailed due to death of pedestrians after a collision

In 2020 - 1 cyclist is jailed due to the death of a pedestrian after a collision

They seem to have no issue jailing cyclists who kill. Perhaps cyclists are deemed not to be able to suffer momentary lapses of concentration/judgement/care 

 

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Rezis replied to Muddy Ford | 1 year ago
4 likes

That's only 1.5, not 2.5... but the point you're making is absolutely valid.

How fast must the driver have been going here that the victim was identified by DNA, so none to very little braking before impact. That's not a momentary loss of concentration.

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Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
1 like

Shockingly my reading of the sentencing guidelines suggests this sentence is actually near the higher end of the guidance. 😡

(Medium community sentence with a guilty plea)

https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/offences/magistrates-court/item/cau...

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Hirsute | 1 year ago
0 likes

I'm confused. Did the driver stop ?

It says "After the fatal collision the cyclist was found dead at the roadside by a passing motorist"

 

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Secret_squirrel replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
0 likes

It implies he stopped further down the road so wasn't first back to the scene.  Not the greatest reporting on this tbh. 

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Sriracha | 1 year ago
9 likes

The big lie is the "momentary lapse of concentration" narrative. That plays straight into the idea that it will happen, and could have happened to anyone, pity the poor motorist that it happened to him.

A momentary lapse could account for hitting a child who runs unexpectedly into the road, the moment's inattention unfortunately coinciding.

But to hit another ordinarily present road user visible from 150 metres? No way is that a mere moment's inattention. For the judiciary to conspire in this lie is shameful.

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Secret_squirrel replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
2 likes

I would say that the article doesn't explain the road layout so it's not fully clear how relevant the 150m is, but the rest of it sums up how worthless the current laws are and how pathetic some of our judiciary are.   It's not their job to potificate but to pass sentence according to the guidelines. 
I though they had leeway to consider refusal to testify as a negative consideration.   Possibly the guilt plea mitigates that. 

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Hirsute replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
7 likes

Either the distance allowed a driver to easily see that there was someone ahead or if it were winding then the driver failed to drive at a speed where he could stop within the distance he could see to be clear.

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HoarseMann replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
6 likes

This article states the collision occurred on a very long straight bit of road where there is a slight bend, between Brieryhill and Manderston:

https://goo.gl/maps/b7NitcXTkWXPxWo57

Given that the paramedic could only place a blanket over the victim as his injuries were not compatible with life and identificaton had to be done by DNA,  excessive speed does seem to be a strong possibility. Surely a stronger possibility than 'failed to carry out sufficient visual checks'.

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