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Driver who crashed into group ride, causing two cyclists life-changing injuries, handed community order

Court hears that Melissa McKelligott ignored Give Way sign before ploughing into member of Dundee Wheelers cycling club in July last year

A motorist who drove through a ‘Give Way’ sign and crashed into a group of cyclists who were on a club ride with Dundee Wheelers, leaving two of them with life-changing injuries, has been handed a community order and banned from driving after admitting two counts of causing serious injury through careless driving.

The Daily Record reports that Perth Sheriff Court heard that Melissa McKelligott, aged 44 and from Edinburgh, was unable to explain how she had failed to stop at the sign before ploughing into the group of eight cyclists near the village of Rait, Perth & Kinross, on 27 July 2022.

The offence with which the motorist was charged came into force the month before the incident under the Police Crime & Sentencing Act 2022, and carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

Two of the cyclists were given medical treatment at the scene before being taken to hospital in Perth, with one, Brian Barr, aged 54, subsequently requiring a hip replacement, with his other injuries including broken ribs and a collapsed lung.

Another cyclist, 29-year-old Helen Wall, sustained injuries including several fractured vertebrae as a result of the collision. A third cyclist was also treated for less serious injuries.

Prosecuting, fiscal depute Sam Craib said: “At about 6.45 pm the accused’s black Mini Cooper travelled through the junction at a Give Way sign.

“She collided with the cyclists. She went straight through the junction. her offside wing mirror snapped off and there were scratches on her vehicle. She got out of the vehicle and was in shock and screaming.

“She made her way to the verge where she sat down, facing away from the cyclists because she couldn't bear to look at the damage she had caused.”

Mr Craib said that several of the cyclists went to check that the motorist was unhurt, and that she said: “There's a Give Way sign – why didn’t I stop, why didn’t I stop?”

“Mr Barr broke his right hip and required a hip replacement,” Mr Craib continued. “He received physio until December 2022. The hip is 75 per cent repaired and that is as good as it’s going to get.

“He suffers pain in his hip. He had a partially collapsed lung, four broken ribs and multiple cuts and bruises. Ms Wall had two fractures to her lumber spine.

“She had a shoulder injury and severe chest and rib pain. The third cyclist, Robert Mills, had bruised knees, cuts down his side and a sore neck,” he added.

"Ms Wall had an 18-month recovery period. She is expected to have nuisance level symptoms throughout her life.”

At the time of the crash, McKelligott was driving on a US driver’s licence which permitted her to drive in the UK for a period of 12 months from April 2022.

Pauline Cullerton, defending her, told the court: “She has not driven since the incident. She fully accepts she failed to stop at the Give Way sign. She did see the cyclists in the corner of her eye.

“She made an emergency stop which caused her vehicle to collide with the cyclists. She did remain at the scene until the emergency services arrived,” the solicitor added.

Recalling the crash, Mr Barr said: “As we got to that junction I saw this car coming out of the corner of my eye. I just knew by the speed it was going that it was never ever stopping.

“Everything kind of went slow motion. I tried to veer left. I was at an angle when I went into the car, banged into it and then got carried on the car as it went right through the junction and up the other side of the road.

“When it stopped, I came off the bonnet and landed, and got another bang.”

Ms Wall, whose injuries meant that she was forced to miss the Scottish Championships being held a week after the crash, said: “I got flung several metres through the air in the direction the car was travelling, so when I hit the ground I landed on my bottom then hit my left shoulder and the back of my head.

“The force of the fall went up through my spine and crushed two of my vertebrae.”

Sentencing McKelligott to 225 hours of unpaid work and banning her from driving for 93 weeks, Sheriff Mark Thorley said: “It is obviously a serious matter.

“The consequences were quite serious. Two people were badly injured and neither has fully recovered,” he added.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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20 comments

Avatar
polainm | 5 months ago
8 likes

Sheriff Mark Thorley said; “The consequences were quite serious. Two people were badly injured and neither has fully recovered".

I guess because the severely injured were cyclists, this can only be 'quite serious' in the eyes of a law enforcement officer. I assume if a local Mason's Range Rover had been scratched in the pub car park, this would have been 'very serious'.

Avatar
Glov Zaroff | 5 months ago
1 like

It's can be a nightmare cross roads. I use it multiple times a week. It's hit and miss (excuse the pun) for drivers adhereing to the give way, which is a shame, because it's part of the Carse of Gowrie  / Sidlaw backroad network that is, IMO, one of the best places to ride in Scotland. 

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polainm replied to Glov Zaroff | 5 months ago
3 likes

This is all part of the Plan for Drivers - Give Way is optional and obviously a war on motorists. 

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Hirsute | 5 months ago
16 likes

West Midlands police said " if only they had been wearing helmets then those life changing injuries would have been avoided".

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wtjs replied to Hirsute | 5 months ago
9 likes

Yes, the police view of 'facts', truth' and 'evidence' can be shocking to those with little experience of their statements and actions

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polainm replied to wtjs | 5 months ago
3 likes

I agree, the police view of cycling, cycling infrastructure and cultural bias towards drivers is shocking to those who have decades of experience. It's as though many cyclists have a better comprehension of this than the police. 

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Rat West replied to Hirsute | 5 months ago
2 likes

Yes, a helmet would have protected them from spinal injuries, broken ribs and punctured lungs - what planet are West Midlands police on????

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wtjs replied to Rat West | 5 months ago
1 like

what planet are West Midlands police on????

​The one where the fair--minded British Bobby is the best in the world and can be trusted 'on their honour' to be not at all bent, anti-cyclist or prone to making heavy-handed 'sus' interventions against cyclists because they're an easy target

Avatar
brooksby replied to wtjs | 5 months ago
1 like

wtjs wrote:

what planet are West Midlands police on????

​The one where the fair--minded British Bobby is the best in the world and can be trusted 'on their honour' to be not at all bent, anti-cyclist or prone to making heavy-handed 'sus' interventions against cyclists because they're an easy target

I don't think that world has existed since the world was in black-and-white and Dixon of Dock Green used a police phone box...  Maybe not even then.

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HoarseMann | 5 months ago
14 likes

Cyclestreets collison report:
https://www.cyclestreets.net/collisions/reports/2022991203602/

From that report, this is the driver's view. The driver would have had a clear view of the cyclists approaching from the left. Ban should be longer and she should be required to sit an extended driving test, if she should be let behind the wheel again.

Not sure if that 40mph sign was there at the time, but it ironically states this is a walking & cycling friendly road. That really ought to apply to any road that's not a motorway.

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Backladder replied to HoarseMann | 5 months ago
7 likes

Regardless of the fact that she should have seen the cyclists, the view to her right is blocked by trees and anything could have been coming along, just driving out without stopping should have been dangerous driving not careless!

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ktache | 5 months ago
10 likes

Seems like a short ban.

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Oldfatgit | 5 months ago
11 likes

I hope all injured make the best recoveries that they can, and may their civil case (please, let there be a claim against her insurance) be successful and able to compensate for their pains.

Looks like 'causing serious injury by careless driving' is *worth* it ...
The old boy that fecked my life up just got 3 points for careless driving... this woman severely injures several people and she gets a ban ...

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dubwise | 5 months ago
13 likes

Words fail me. Yet again vulnerable road users let down.

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chrisonabike replied to dubwise | 5 months ago
8 likes

Yes.

Remember though in Scotland, as a driver who has collided with someone, if you say you can't remember, that is a defense.  Sometimes that may mean it doesn't even reach court, sometimes it may effectively remove punishment for causing someone's death.

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brooksby | 5 months ago
10 likes

Quote:

was unable to explain how she had failed to stop at the sign before ploughing into the group of eight cyclists

Because she only looked for the big metal motor vehicles?

Avatar
AidanR replied to brooksby | 5 months ago
5 likes
brooksby wrote:

Quote:

was unable to explain how she had failed to stop at the sign before ploughing into the group of eight cyclists

Because she only looked for the big metal motor vehicles?

Apparently not:

"She did see the cyclists in the corner of her eye."

It sounds like she was going to plough through that junction come what may. She's lucky that it was cyclists and not a lorry. Obviously the cyclists were much less fortunate.

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wtjs replied to AidanR | 5 months ago
3 likes

She's lucky that it was cyclists and not a lorry

Well, we must all have hope for the future!

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polainm replied to AidanR | 5 months ago
4 likes

Give Way for most drivers is optional. The biggest object takes precedence. 

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Muddy Ford replied to brooksby | 5 months ago
11 likes

brooksby wrote:

Quote:

was unable to explain how she had failed to stop at the sign before ploughing into the group of eight cyclists

Because she only looked for the big metal motor vehicles?

Because she thought she could beat them to cross the junction rather than have to wait. And like most drivers who don't cycle, assumed they were doing just above a walking pace. 

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