Crown move to appeal Gary McCourt sentence hailed

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THE families of the two cyclist victims of death driver Gary McCourt have welcomed a move by the Crown Office to appeal his “unduly lenient” sentence.

A sheriff’s decision to let McCourt walk free from court with a driving ban of just five years sparked outrage in the Capital.

Now the 49-year-old, who was convicted of killing cyclist Audrey Fyfe, 75, faces the threat of being re-sentenced for the crime.

The appeal bid was described as “fantastic” by Ann Dalgity, the sister of tragic 22-year-old student George Dalgity, who was knocked down and killed by McCourt in 1985.

Mrs Fyfe’s daughter, Linda Hamilton, said: “We are delighted this will be now reviewed and thank you to all of the people that e-mailed the Lord Advocate.”

A campaign calling for an appeal, led by the Fyfe family and pressure group Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC), saw more than 6000 write in to urge action.

Olympic heroes Sir Chris Hoy and Chris Boardman lent their support, while former world champion cyclist Graeme Obree and radio presenter Grant Stott were among thousands of cyclists who pedalled to the Scottish Parliament earlier this month in protest.

Ms Dalgity said: “It’s fantastic, really good news, but it’s only the first hurdle.

“McCourt was shown undue leniency in both instances so we will have to wait and see what happens.

“We sent a letter to the sheriff when McCourt was due to be sentenced over the death of Mrs Fyfe, detailing the impact George’s death had on our family, and that was obviously ignored. Hopefully it will be taken into account if he’s sentenced again.”

She added: “A lifetime driving ban is the very least that McCourt should receive. I think he also deserves a jail sentence. He only got a year for what he did to George so it would be deserved after a second death.

“His sentence sent out totally the wrong message that motorists can drive like that and get away with it.”

Mrs Fyfe, of Coillesdene Crescent, Joppa, died on August 11, 2011, after McCourt knocked her from her bike at the junction between Portobello Road and Craigentinny Avenue.

Explaining his sentencing, Sheriff Scott said that Mrs Fyfe’s failure to wear a helmet had “contributed significantly” towards her death, that the collision involved “minimal contact”, and McCourt’s previous conviction was from “27 years ago”.

City leader Andrew Burns said: “I very much welcome the fact that the Crown are appealing against the sentence and I’m pleased for Audrey Fyfe’s family. I understand that there are only about a dozen or so Crown appeals each year, and it’s clear that they have listened to public opinion in this case.”

Donald Urquhart, secretary of CTC Scotland, said the group believed the appeal was a “reflection of the significant levels of concern expressed by cyclists of the leniency of the original sentence”.

McCourt, of Niddrie Mill Avenue, was convicted of causing death by careless driving after a trial in April.

A statement from the Crown Office said: “In cases of a serious nature, Crown counsel will often consider whether the sentence imposed is within the range available to the sheriff in the exercise of his or her discretion.

“Following careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case against Gary McCourt by Crown counsel, we can confirm that the Crown will be lodging an appeal against the sentence on the grounds that it was unduly lenient.”