'I feel heartbroken for Gwyn, knowing the driver who ended his life still gets to walk free'

The widow of a cyclist who was fatally injured in a smash with a car says she is ‘heartbroken’ the killer driver was not jailed.

By Stephen Wilkie
Thursday, 26th November 2020, 7:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th November 2020, 9:53 pm
Tragedy: Gwyn Bailey
Tragedy: Gwyn Bailey

Leanne Bailey, 41, said she has been left ‘heartbroken’ after Barry McConnell was handed a community sentence for causing the accident which claimed the life of her husband Gwyn.

Mr Bailey, 37, died after being struck by a car while cycling in West Lothian on February 27 last year.

He was heading east when he was hit by McConnell’s Mercedes C220 that was travelling west at the access road to Bangour Hospital on the A89, and was declared dead at the scene by the emergency services.

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Anger: Barry McConnell dodged a prison sentence

McConnell, 47, a father-of-two from Bathgate, escaped the accident uninjured but was later arrested.

Earlier this month he appeared at Livingston Sheriff Court and admitted a charge of death by careless driving.

Mrs Bailey and the couple’s nine-year-old daughter, Emily, were in court to see Sheriff Susan Craig sentence McConnell, who claimed he had been blinded by the sun seconds before the accident.

McConnell was given 225 hours of unpaid work and placed on a strict home curfew for nine months, with an electronic tag, keeping him indoors from 9pm to 6am Monday to Friday and from 7pm until 7am at weekends.

Sheriff Craig, a keen cyclist, also banned McConnell from driving for 45 months and ordered him to pass an extended driving test before getting back behind the wheel.

Surveyor McConnell was also fined £1,275 for having no MoT on his Mercedes and illegal tinted windows.

Mrs Bailey, who had submitted a victim impact statement along with her daughter, later reacted angrily to the sentence.

She said: “I feel heartbroken for Gwyn knowing the driver who ended his life still gets to walk free.

“I know it’s one of the most severe sentences handed out but a few hours of picking up litter is not justice for killing someone and house arrest doesn’t make any difference right now when the whole country is in lockdown and can’t go anywhere anyway.

“While we’re upset at the sentence I am glad the defence arguments were rightly dismissed – it was utterly disgraceful they were trying to blame Gwyn.

“He took Gwyn's life. My husband. My daughter’s father. A dear friend to many and a positive member of the community.

“That driver destroyed our lives.”

Specialist road traffic lawyer Richard Freeman, defending, had suggested in mitigation that Mr Bailey’s dark clothing had made him hard for his client to see.

But Sheriff Craig said: “I don’t accept any suggestion.. that what Mr Bailey was wearing should in any way mitigate any part of his responsibility for what happened that day.

“It’s clear from the photographs that the clothing was entirely appropriate cycling gear and I reject any such suggestion.

“I’m told your sight was dazzled by the sun as you turned the junction but the other statements in this case suggest that the sun wasn’t particularly bright and others were driving without their face visors.”

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