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Driver avoids prison term for killing cyclist

Court hears that car was speeding and on wrong side of road

A driver who pleaded guilty to causing the death of a cyclist through careless driving has been banned from driving for 12 months and given 240 hours community service by a Scottish court.

Cyclist Brian Taylor had been cycling to work in the early hours of the morning in November 2008 when he was hit by a Rover 400 driven by plumber Stephen McKay, and died from his injuries at the scene.

McKay claimed that Mr Taylor, a 29-year-old father of one, had been riding without lights, but STV News reports that police accident investigators later established after analysing skid marks that the motorist had been driving on the wrong side of the road and lost control of his vehicle.

They also estimated that McKay had been driving at speeds of up to 60mph on Grange Road, Dunfermline, a twisting road that has a speed limit of 40mph. The fatal collision occurred on a double bend, with the impact sending the victim onto the grass verge, with Mr Taylor suffering multiple fractures to his legs, ribs and skull. A post mortem found that he had "brain injuries consistent with being hit by a vehicle travelling between 50 and 60 mph."

The court heard that McKay remained in his vehicle without moving, with his headlights and hazard lights on before he stopped a passer-by and, in “"a panicked state", said: "I have just hit somebody. I think I have killed him."

The case was heard at Dunfermline Sheriff Court, where Sheriff Craig McSherry told "Had you been driving at a reckless speed you would be facing a charge of reckless driving. This quite obviously had a terrible outcome for the family of the accused, but in saying that, I do not believe the level of carelessness is substantial enough to merit a sentence of imprisonment."

The specific offence of causing death by careless driving was introduced in both England & Wales and Scotland in 2008 following pressure from road safety campaigners and cyclists' organisations due to the perceived leniency of sentences handed down to drivers charged with careless driving in cases where someone had died as a result of the driver's actions.

CTC Campaigns Coordinator Debra Rolfe said:"It is shocking that a motorist who killed a cyclist while driving significantly faster than the speed limit and on the wrong side of the road has only been convicted of causing death by careless driving. In my view, this is clearly dangerous driving. A 12-month driving ban seems very lenient in this case. A ban is not about punishing the motorist, but rather it's about taking people off the road who have demonstrated their ability to be a risk to others."

CTC is collecting data on cycling crashes and near misses through the website

Moments after being sentenced, McKay was back before the same court, where he was fined £260 for threatening a customer who had criticised his workmanship with a three-foot long toby key, a tool used by plumbers to turn mains water supply on and off.

Simon joined 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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