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Driver who claims she cannot remember fatal crash that killed cyclist walks free from court

Glasgow jury returns not proven verdict against Jordan McDowall, accused of causing death of cyclist Kevin Gilchrist by dangerous driving

A motorist in Scotland who says she has “no recollection” of a crash in which a cyclist was killed has been acquitted of causing death by dangerous driving after a jury returned a not proven verdict.

Jordan McDowall, aged 21 and from Erskine, had been charged with the offence following the death of cyclist Kevin Gilchrist, 51, on Greenock Road, Inchinnan, Renfrewshire on 28 July 2018, reports The Gazette.

At her trial in the High Court in Glasgow, she claimed she could not remember the collision, which happened when she veered onto the wrong side of the road and crashed into Mr Gilchrist, saying she had a “gap” in her memory.

During the trial, Paul Kearney QC, prosecuting, asked Ms McDowall, who had only been driving for seven weeks at the time of the fatal crash, “Is it not the case you were fully conscious but for whatever reason not paying attention to the road ahead?”

“No,” she replied, saying that the last thing she remembered was exiting a roundabout.

She also denied being on her mobile phone after the crash, despite eyewitness evidence to the contrary.

“If the witness is right, it means you were conscious enough and alert enough to be using your phone straight after an episode of loss of consciousness and memory,” Mr Kearney said.

“I don't know what happened,” she replied.

The verdict of not proven is one of three available to the 15 jurors trying cases in Scottish criminal courts, the other two being guilty or not guilty. As with a not guilty verdict, one of not proven constitutes an acquittal.

It is generally considered by legal commentators as being returned in cases in which the jury believes there is culpability on the defendant’s part, but the prosecution has been unable to establish their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Since road.cc was established in 2008, there have been at least three other cases in which a jury has returned a verdict of not proven against a motorist accused of causing a cyclist’s death.

In 2009, van driver Nick Underdown was acquitted of causing the death by careless driving of Elspeth Kelman, who had been on an annual bike ride on Arran to commemorate her late husband.

The case was the first time a motorist had stood trial on that charge in Scotland, with the offence introduced in August of the previous year, the same month the fatal crash happened.

Lorry driver John Stewart was acquitted in 2014 of causing the death by careless driving of Andrew McNicoll in Edinburgh in in January 2012.

The trailer the driver was towing struck Mr McNicoll, causing him to crash into a parked car, sustaining fatal injuries.

The trial heard that police collision investigators had been unable to establish that the driver was to blame for the victim’s death, however.

In 2018, a jury unanimously returned a verdict of not proven on a charge of causing death by dangerous driving against a motorist who had killed cyclist Gary Christie in Kirkcaldy in November 2016.

The same jury, however, found David Gordon guilty of the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

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.

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