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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

Avatar
Awavey replied to HoarseMann | 1 year ago
2 likes

From that map link if you look towards the direction of Duns, you can actually see a cyclist and how theyd look on that road from a distance

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HoarseMann replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
2 likes

Found some more details about the collision:
https://www.cyclestreets.net/collisions/reports/2020991010115/

That cyclist you can see on the streetview link is almost at the same location as the collision. They are travelling in the same direction, but a little bit further up the road. The collision occurred just after the bend following the very long straight section of road, just after the entrance to Briery Hill.

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giff77 replied to HoarseMann | 1 year ago
0 likes

Having read the report it actually looks like Ian hadn't even reached the bend as he was travelling in a SW direction so the driver would have had even more time to see. 

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HoarseMann replied to giff77 | 1 year ago
2 likes

giff77 wrote:

Having read the report it actually looks like Ian hadn't even reached the bend as he was travelling in a SW direction so the driver would have had even more time to see. 

It's not the very sharp 90 degree bend further up the road, but the almost imperceptable kink in the road just past the Briery Hill entrance.

Not even a bend really, the sort of curve you could take without slowing down.

But with the length of road leading up to that slight curve, there would have been ample opportunity to observe Ian on his bike go around the corner.

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to HoarseMann | 1 year ago
3 likes

I note that there are no comments on either of the articles linked... Can't understand why people wouldn't want to take the opportunity to express their disgust at the lack of bicycle insurance, no licence plates, dark clothes, garishly bright clothing, no lights, too bright a light, unbridled law braking lycra louts... ooh road tax, I nearly forgot that one... 

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ktache | 1 year ago
16 likes

If the driver has no ability to see a cyclist in front of him, or offer any explanation, then why on earth is he ever allowed to legally get behind the wheel of any motorised vehicle.

A one year ban seems ridiculously and woefully pathetic.

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NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
15 likes

Sheriff Paterson told the court: "The court can do little in these circumstances to repair or help."

Yes, the court could only do stupid pointless things like punishing a murderer, giving the grieving family justice, making the driver think twice before doing it again and showing other dangerous drivers that they may get a serious punishment if they do the same thing.

As the Sheriff very wisely implied, what would be the point of a court getting involved with trivial nonsense like that?

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sean1 replied to NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
2 likes

I agree, a mindless comment from the Sheriff.  The purpose of the sentence is to indicate to society at large that this behaviour is totally unacceptable.

Instead a weak punishment sends the message, its OK, can happen to anyone, just a simple mistake, crashing into stuff is just normal.

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Awavey replied to sean1 | 1 year ago
3 likes

It feels worse that he equated the tragedy of the family losing their son and a partner, to the tragedy that Halliday feels for causing that death. Part of the mitigation seems to be just he feels bad about it.

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TheBillder | 1 year ago
12 likes

Clearly no concept of a sentence as a deterrent, or as some restitution for the family of the victim. Terrible.

I cannot for the life of me see why "momentary loss of concentration" is different from momentarily losing self control and strangling someone.

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chrisonabike replied to TheBillder | 1 year ago
5 likes

Yes.  I think this is a rather wild but interesting analogy.  It links our ideas of "normal behaviour" or "a reasonable person" that our legal system enjoins juries to consider.  That is: driving is utterly normal and quotidien.  We're maybe aware that driving in all kinds of conditions e.g. distracted, emotional, looking at phone, not paying attention and even nodding off ... is actually not unusual either.  Even if we may disapprove or deny doing that ourselves.  So a defense of "I don't know how that happened" or even "I'm not really a great (competent) driver"?  That's fine.

Cycling on the road however?  Not usual.  Putting yourself in harm's way.  It's unlikely the jury will understand the reasons for what you did or didn't do and whether you were doing it competently.  They're likely disposed to think you were at least ill-advised, if not a bit reckless or fundamentally incompetent.

Also there seems still to be a need for juries to read in some "intent" or "knowing recklessness" into driving offenses.  Just the fact that "someone died while I was driving" was likely an accident otherwise.  And that driver's contribution has to be pretty obvious and/or socially "unusual" e.g. someone who was already a criminal or engaged in other illegal acts at the time or who had got pissed or otherwise intoxicated.  Juries seem to recognise that that is beyond the pale and disapprove.  However, speeding, driving wildly in the dark / fog?  Could happen to anyone, mate.  Just bad luck you were cycling there at the time.

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Hirsute replied to TheBillder | 1 year ago
3 likes

But where does this loss of concentration come from ?
He refused to answer questions, so how does the defence get to plead this? Surely it should be disregarded if he won't give evidence.
Does not make sense to me.

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 1 year ago
0 likes

Presumably in this case since he made a guilty plea to something everyone accepted that (rather than spend money / risk losing contesting a more serious charge).

If it had been contested the prosecution can use his lack of answers but they still have to "prove" things - the defence doesn't.  So saying nowt is likely often a good idea (and better than lying) since the other side might fail to come up with much else.

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Secret_squirrel replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
0 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

Presumably in this case since he made a guilty plea to something everyone accepted that (rather than spend money / risk losing contesting a more serious charge).

If it had been contested the prosecution can use his lack of answers but they still have to "prove" things - the defence doesn't.  So saying nowt is likely often a good idea (and better than lying) since the other side might fail to come up with much else.

Unfortunately on balance the right to silence is a good thing.  The downside is that is it then requires a really watertight case from the prosecution and a willingness to be charged with the full weight of the law.  In this case it seems a guilty to death by careless driving was enough to to sweep a death under the carpet with minimum efforts made on all sides.  

A caveat is that none of the reporting that I have seen on this case is of stellar quality - there could be more to be considered than we realise.

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Hirsute replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
3 likes

I'm not disagreeing with right to silence but if you take that approach you can't claim momentary lack of concentration as that isn't maintaining silence.

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open_roads | 1 year ago
17 likes

A shameful verdict and sentence.

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