A cyclist who rode through a red light in east London and crashed into a pedestrian, causing fatal injuries, has been jailed for two years.
Peter McCombie, who had been on his way home from work as an administrator at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, died from his injuries a week after the crash on Bow Road 3 July last year. He was aged 72.
The cyclist, Ermir Loka, aged 23, fled the scene of the crash in Bow but handed himself into police, who had made extensive appeals including releasing CCTV images, more than three weeks later on 28 July.
The Albanian national, who had entered the UK illegally, said he did not stop after the crash because he was worried about his immigration status coming to light.
He pleaded not guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court to manslaughter and causing bodily harm through wanton and furious driving, being acquitted on the first charge but convicted on the second one.
CCTV footage shown at the trial revealed that he would have had 8 seconds to see the red traffic light and stop there, but he carried on riding through it, colliding with Mr McCombie.
At his trial in March, Loka, who had been getting by on around three hours’ sleep a night as he worked two jobs, denied that he had ridden through the red light on purpose, and said he had been unable to brake ahead of the crash.
In a statement released after Loka was sentenced, Mr McCombie’s family said: “Peter’s loss has been immeasurable and has left a gap in our lives that we will never be able to fill.
“He was a man who loved his family, who had time for his circle of valued friends, and worked hard for his colleagues. He was a complete gentleman and everyone that knew him has been united in grief at the manner in which he was taken from us.
“The shock of losing him so abruptly, so suddenly, so unnecessarily, is something that will haunt us for a very long time to come. Peter still had so much left to do and enjoy with us and we have been robbed of that by the actions of this selfish man, who cycled into him and then immediately got up and fled.
“He left Peter laying in a busy road, seriously injured, and thought only of himself at that time. That kind of cowardice is beyond contempt,” they continued. “The anger we feel towards him is beyond words. We cannot even bear to say his name.
“He denied his actions and put us through the trauma of a trial, where we saw exactly what happened and lived our grief again and again. His actions are unforgiveable. We are glad that the jury saw through his lies and that he has been convicted.”
Detective Sergeant Eddie Coleman of the Metropolitan Police Service said: “Peter McCombie was a fit and active man who had had continued to work well past his retirement age. He was much loved by his family and friends and well-liked by his colleagues.
“My sympathies remain with Peter’s family, who have been through so much and supported us so steadfastly throughout our investigation and this trial. I would like to thank them for their courage and bravery and hope they know we have done the best we could for them, and for Peter.
“It can only be said that Loka’s actions were reckless and dangerous and entirely avoidable. If Loka had only just slowed and stopped at the red traffic light, we would not be here today,” he added.
Loka was jailed for two years on Monday, the maximum sentence for the offence of which he was convicted, with the time he will spend in prison taking into account the period he has already spent on remand.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.