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Cyclist slams “disgraceful” 12-month driving ban and £540 fine for drink driver who “ruined” his life

“I was so shocked that I wanted to stand up and scream at the judge. He’s ruined my life and he’s essentially got away with it,” says cyclist Ian Gillies, who was left with life-changing injuries after Mark Shields ploughed into him from behind

A cyclist who was left with horrific, life-changing injuries after a drink driver ploughed into him from behind at speed says he wanted to “stand up and scream” at the judge who handed the motorist a “disgraceful” 12-month driving and £540 fine for “ruining my life”.

Glasgow cyclist Ian Gillies was enjoying a leisurely ride in the outskirts of the city on 6 May 2023 when he was hit by motorist Mark Hugh Shields on Cumbernauld Road, Stepps, at around 12.30pm, throwing him 30 feet away onto the pavement and causing him to suffer various severe injuries, which have left Gillies unable to work and battling with anxiety.

“The guy came out of nowhere, I had just looked behind myself about 20 seconds before he hit me from behind. Someone who witnessed it said he swerved into my lane trying to undertake a car and that’s when he hit me,” the 54-year-old told Glasgow Live.

“I remember it all. At first I didn’t know I had been hit by a car, I just knew I was flying through the air. It was only when I was tumbling through the air that I saw the blue car.

“I think I must have gone about 25ft in the air before coming down hard on the sharp edge of the kerb about 30ft away from the crash site. A woman was shouting that I was dead and I had to tell them I wasn’t.”

> Hit-and run driver who killed London cyclist jailed for 11 years

Following the collision, Gillies was rushed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where it was revealed that he had suffered an internal degloving injury to his back, broken ribs, a broken elbow, damage to his hip, and several cuts and bruises. Nine months on from the collision, the cyclist says he is still suffering from chronic pain – resulting from a planned surgery to his degloving injury being cancelled due to fears it would be too dangerous – which has left him unable to work or carry out tasks around the house.

“It’s hugely changed my life, I can't do anything that I used to, like play football,” he says. “I used to cycle everywhere, I used to go up to 80 miles in one day, and I’ll never be able to do that again.

“It’s majorly limited my mobility, I can’t wash my dishes, I can’t stand for too long and I can’t sit for long because I’m in agony. I’m unable to do my work as a manager in a large chemical plant because it’s an intense and active job. The crash has completely changed my life.”

Ian’s physical and mental struggles following the collision were tragically compounded just five weeks later by the death of his brother Scott, who was killed after also being hit by a motorist while cycling.

“Five weeks later my brother was cycling and was killed as well,” he says. “We were close and would go out together on the bikes. He had been helping me recover when he was killed. It’s been a horrible time for the family.”

> Driver who seriously injured cyclist when overtaking group ride fined

However, despite the severity of Ian’s injuries, 44-year-old motorist Shields – who admitted driving without due care and attention and driving while over the limit – was given a £540 fine and 12 months driving ban at Airdrie Sheriff Court, a punishment the cyclist describes as a mere “slap on the wrist”.

“He left me for dead on that road. The guy has never shown any remorse for his actions,” he says. “When I saw him at the court I told him ‘you got away with that mate’ and he never reacted.

“He nearly killed me and didn’t even get community service. If I had landed any different I’d be dead, and for that he got a small fine for ruining my life.

“It’s a disgrace, all he got was a year ban, which you get anyway for being a drunk driver, and a £540 fine. He's ruined my life and he’s essentially got away with it.”

The 54-year-old continued: “I was a fit and healthy guy before the crash but I can’t do anything now. I’ve been off work sick for nine months because of my injuries and I don’t know how I’m going to get back to work. Some days the pain is so bad that all I can do is lie on the floor with my feet up.

“I feel real anger over the verdict. I was so shocked that I wanted to stand up and scream at the judge. I wanted to ask him if he was having a laugh.

“He’s ruined my life. I’m a 54-year-old guy who was constantly out doing active hobbies and now I’m a shell of a person.”

> Hit-and-run drink driver thought cyclist he seriously injured was “only a traffic cone”

This kind of sentencing for a drink driver who injured a cyclist unfortunately isn’t an isolated phenomenon.

In December 2022, Daniel Towers, a motorist who hit a cyclist while over the limit before failing to stop, leaving his victim with a serious head injury and “struggling to breathe”, was handed a 12-month community order, with 200 hours of unpaid work, and banned from driving for 16 months by a judge at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court.

Towers’ lawyer told the court that the motorist, who informed police at the time of his arrest that he didn’t feel that he needed to stop after the collision as “he believed that he had only hit a traffic cone”, had “suffered significant anxiety since the commission of this offence, and he knows that he has done wrong. He hasn’t had a drink since the accident and does not intend to drink in the future.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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33 comments

Avatar
Easthallian | 2 weeks ago
7 likes

Hi all, i am the cyclist in this article. Thank you all for the supportive and kind comments. What you read does not tell the full story. The driver also had 2 young girls in his car aged around 8 and 12. They ran out the car scared and refused to go back in the car before he drove away leaving them at the scene at the side of a dual carriageway. So aggravating factors to this were 1. Children in the car 2. Hitting a vulnerable road user (cyclist) 3. Drunk in charge of a vehicle 4. Doing an illegal manouvere in undertaking a car. I have contacted the court to appeal this overly lenient sentence so shall have to wait to see how that goes.
In my brother's case the driver was yesterday charged with death by dangerous driving while being under the influence of drugs. Absolutely awful what these drivers are doing and sentencing should reflect the seriousness of the crime.

 

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OldRidgeback | 2 weeks ago
3 likes

That is appalling. Surely the victim can appeal for a tougher sentence?

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jh2727 replied to OldRidgeback | 2 weeks ago
2 likes
OldRidgeback wrote:

That is appalling. Surely the victim can appeal for a tougher sentence?

I knew someone who got the same length of ban and a larger fine than this for drink driving alone, without the added element "careless" driving or causing an injury. He was caught because he was driving at 20 in 30 limit (I guess his reasoning was that if one of the main issues with drink driving is increased reaction time, he should counteract it by driving more slowly). Something is clearly amiss with the charges brought and the sentence given.

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IanMK | 3 weeks ago
7 likes

This from the charity mind. '

"As well as the mental health problems listed above, you must tell the DVLA if you:

Misuse or have been dependent on alcohol
Use or have used illegal drugs
Misuse or have misused prescription drugs"

How many alcoholics or those having drug offences against them have not told the DVLA? If they are caught then it should be a £1000 fine. More than the derisory fine issued in this case. It would be interesting to find out how many such fines are issued?

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wtjs replied to IanMK | 3 weeks ago
9 likes

If they are caught then it should be a £1000 fine

There's some dodge associated with these threatened £1000 fines- there's one for 'No MOT' which is never imposed , largely because the police don't treat that as an offence at all. This is a Travellers Choice primary school bus XJF 386 in February 23. Its MOT had expired 2 weeks before and remained expired for another 10 months, when it obtained an MOT from the company's own new MOT Testing Centre

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eburtthebike replied to wtjs | 2 weeks ago
2 likes

Reminds me of when I worked for a local authority which had bus contracts, and I had reason to call the manager of a bus company.  I was confused by the hubbub in the background when he answered, the sound of children shouting, laughing and behaving like kids: he was driving the school bus.  I terminated the conversation.

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wtjs | 3 weeks ago
18 likes

It's terrifying just reading about incidents like this, where joke sentences follow dangerous drunk-driving because the authorities think (this is a quotation from a Blackpool Police tweet): 'if cyclists don't like the roads, they should choose another mode of transport'. The police basically disregard (I'm told on here that this isn't true everywhere) incidents when the cyclist isn't KSI'd under the 'what do the little 'b******s expect when they clutter up the roads' principle- and when the cyclist is KSI'd and the police can't get away with ignoring the offence, the courts take over in getting the motorist off.

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mattw | 3 weeks ago
6 likes

Dear God.

Is there a technical reason for this not being charged more seriously, or is the Scottish Judical System just f*cked to sh*t?

The incident was on June 9 2023. 

In England (and I assume Wales) Causing Serious Injury by Careless Driving only came into force on 28th June 2022. 

How far behind are Scotland on this? And what are their senetncing guidelines for Careless Driving? Does the charge of causing injury by careless driving even exist?

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giff77 replied to mattw | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Driving offences will be reserved so Scotland falls in line with the rest of Great Britain. Northern Ireland would be the exception. 

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FionaJJ replied to mattw | 3 weeks ago
11 likes

There are a number of issues with Police Scotland, a lot stemming from the merging of all services into one, some logistical, but some political. But whatever the roots, it's apparent that the safety of cyclists, or road safety in general are not priorities.

We still don't even have Operation Snap here, and it's not just cycling organisations calling for it. The AA think it would be a good idea too! You've got to wonder why they are dragging their feet.

The actual sentence was passed by a Sheriff (Scottish version of magistrate), so we can only guess their reasoning, but it's part of a wider societal problem whereby even the most serious and harmful of driving offenses are treated like someone was caught scrumping apples. 

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chrisonabike replied to FionaJJ | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

True. Polis aren't bothered and from some of their official pronouncements they don't even appear to know what they're talking about on road safety.

Does the complication of "corroboration" in the Scottish legal system have an effect here?

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giff77 replied to FionaJJ | 3 weeks ago
6 likes

Sheriffs and judges across the country have form for light sentencing be it custodial or driving bans. Polis Scotland come across as reticent to deal with any traffic offence where cyclists are the victims except the most serious ones and even then the Fiscal and sheriffs will quite happily stymie the final result. Then you have the widely accepted defence of "I can't remember" It really doesn't make cycling on Scottish roads an attractive alternative. Presumed Liability has been kicked into touch by the government and the polis have no desire to establish a portal to upload clips as they haven't created their own format. Though apparently something is being trialed in Dundee whether that is rolled out is another question. 

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PRSboy | 3 weeks ago
6 likes

Any chance of civil action against the driver, surely a big compensation claim would be justified in the circumstances?

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IanMK replied to PRSboy | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

Wouldn't that just be covered by the insurance. I presume that Ian is already claiming for damages.
My niece was involved in a car accident, as a passenger, and because of a back injury that might cause her problems as she gets older got a six figure pay out. It doesn't make up for anything but that's the way we seem to want to police the roads.

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Rendel Harris replied to IanMK | 3 weeks ago
5 likes
IanMK wrote:

My niece was involved in a car accident, as a passenger, and because of a back injury that might cause her problems as she gets older got a six figure pay out. It doesn't make up for anything but that's the way we seem to want to police the roads.

Which of course means that rather than the guilty party paying for their crime we all will via increased insurance premiums, even those of us who don't even own a motor vehicle.

(Absolutely no criticism of your niece's payout implied or intended, people should quite rightly be compensated for their injuries, it would just be preferable if at least some of that came out of the pocket of the offender; seizing and selling their vehicle and giving the proceeds to the victim would be a good start)

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IanMK replied to Rendel Harris | 2 weeks ago
3 likes

Absolutely, insurance is there for the victim and I hope Ian has a big payout, although we know that it will not be able to compensate him for good health and doing the things he loved. However, It would be up to the insurance company to go after the driver, particularly if they are in breach of their license by, for example, being drunk. In cases like this it's ridiculous that the fine is likely to be a fraction of the cost to wider society.

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jh2727 replied to IanMK | 2 weeks ago
1 like
IanMK wrote:

Absolutely, insurance is there for the victim and I hope Ian has a big payout, although we know that it will not be able to compensate him for good health and doing the things he loved. However, It would be up to the insurance company to go after the driver, particularly if they are in breach of their license by, for example, being drunk. In cases like this it's ridiculous that the fine is likely to be a fraction of the cost to wider society.

My understanding is that the insurance company would be required to cover the damages/compensation - however as the driver has a criminal conviction in relation to the incident, the insurer would have recourse to recover the sums paid out from their customer. This is assuming that the driver was insured of course.

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mctrials23 | 3 weeks ago
11 likes

I don't know if I am talking absolute rubbish but at some point, someone needs to sue the crown prosecution or the government at large when these scumbags eventually kill someone and the police have ignored all the signs leading up to it. 

They need to make the punishment for this sort of thing crazy to the point it will ruin the perpetrators life as much as the victims. Ban them from driving for a very long time or life and fine them into financial ruin. Make them pay their victim money every month for a very long time so that every time they look at their crap paycheque they think about the life they ruined. 

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dubwise | 3 weeks ago
13 likes

I hope Ian can make the best recovery possible.

For this to happen and then the loss of his brother... words can't be expressed to articulate the sorrow I feel.

As for the driver's punishment, I have plenty to say but the tirade would be unacceptable on these pages.

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Oldfatgit | 3 weeks ago
18 likes

Feck ... I hope Ian has the best recovery he can, and is able to find some peace from the injuries.

The driver that drove his Mondeo in to me, causing an impact with an estimated speed of 60mph and broke
11 ribs
Left ulna
Dislocated left elbow
My left kneecap in to 4 peices
Fractured 3 vertebrae
Punctured my lung
Caused internal bleeding
Gave me a lower-spine subdermal hematoma which the medic were concerned was degloving (thankfully it wasnt)
Gave me a TBI that has left me with some cognitive impairment
Put me in HDU for a week
Got me a unwanted 4 month sitting holiday on my sofa 'cos I couldn't walk
18 months off full time work
Rest of my life using a walking stick and other mobility issues ...

He got 6 points for Careless Driving and a small fine.
Didn't even go to court as he admitted guilt at the scene so it was dealt with by fixed penalty.

And yes .. I'm in Scotland.

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Christopher TR1 replied to Oldfatgit | 2 weeks ago
1 like

Another disgusting example of so-called justice! It's unbelievable.

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sapperadam | 3 weeks ago
12 likes

Can this sentencing be appealed? Where's the charge for causing serious injury? Absolute travesty of justice.

A friend of mine was caught drink driving in 1998. He was driving "slowly and carefully" which is why he was stopped (driving too slow at 1am was suspicious), probably the least egregious of drink drive offences. He was rightfully banned. For 18 months. And received a £300 fine. How do courts come up with these sentences? Absolutely ridiculous.

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eburtthebike | 3 weeks ago
11 likes

Best wishes Ian for a speedy and full recovery.

Surely the driver would have received heavier punishment just for drink driving?  This is a ridiculously lenient sentence for drink driving, dangerous driving and causing serious injury.

What is the system in Scotland for appealing clearly unjustified sentences?

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giff77 replied to eburtthebike | 3 weeks ago
5 likes

Incredibly lenient sentence. The sheriff appears to have disregarded one of the charges (careless I assume) and given the minimum dd sentence. The Fiscal has also stuffed up by not upgrading to injury by careless. Not sure if you can appeal a non custodial sentence. 

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Steve Garratt | 3 weeks ago
16 likes

This is nothing new, ridiculously lenient sentences for horrendous traffic offences. Back in 1971, a motorist who did a U turn in front of me then on a motorcycle causing life changing injuries including severe brain injuries which left me partially paralysed on my right side plus a fractured femur and crushed ribs back then received one endorsement and a £25 fine for driving with undue care and attention... I was 17 and had just started work as a Post Office Telecom apprentice and though I had recovered sufficiently to return to work seven months later,  the lasting effects of the injuries meant that my career in the Post Office, subsequently BT never took off and remained at a bottom rung until my retirement in 2011.

 

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Rendel Harris | 3 weeks ago
23 likes
Quote:

Towers’ lawyer told the court that the motorist... "hasn’t had a drink since the accident and does not intend to drink in the future."

Oh well, that's alright then. I've ruined someone's life but I promise I'll never do it again. I'm not usually much of a lad for draconian laws but it's about time that causing injury by drink driving attracted a mandatory lifetime ban, no exceptions. Drink driving without causing injury, five year ban and lifetime ban for second offence. Forfeiture of vehicle in all cases.

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Steve Garratt replied to Rendel Harris | 3 weeks ago
5 likes

unbelievable..

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didsthewinegeek | 3 weeks ago
22 likes

I could just about understood if it was just due care and attention. But drunk in charge aswell? There are people that fail a breath test fare worst.

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aegisdesign | 3 weeks ago
19 likes

Sounds like the wrong charge. Should have been "causing serious injury by careless driving" at least which has up to a 2 year custodial sentence. Or is that not available in Scotland?

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giff77 replied to aegisdesign | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Looks like the Fiscal has totally stuffed up. 

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