Call for sterner sentence for double-killer driver

Audrey Fyfe. Picture: Contributed
Audrey Fyfe. Picture: Contributed
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Thousands of cyclists have demanded the sentence given to double-killer driver Gary McCourt be reviewed.

Nearly 3000 people have signed a petition calling for the “scandalous” sentence slapped on death crash driver Gary McCourt to be appealed.

As reported in the News last week, McCourt, who hit and killed 75-year-old Audrey Fyfe in his car while she cycled near her home, received 300 hours of community service after he was found guilty of causing the death by careless driving. The 49-year-old, who was previously jailed for causing the death of student George Dalgity by reckless driving in 1986, was also hit with a five-year driving ban.

Mrs Fyfe’s outraged 
daughters, Aileen Brown and Linda Hamilton, approached national pressure group the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) to help them in their campaign to appeal the sentence.

Accompanied by George Dalgity’s sister, Ann, they have handed a letter to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to register a formal appeal against the sentence.

The CTC, of which tragic Audrey was a keen member, has urged people to write to the Lord Advocate – who is ultimately responsible for the appeal decision – in support of the appeal.

Since they launched their campaign on Friday, more than 2800 members have written to the Lord Advocate.

Roger Geffen, campaigns and policy director for the CTC, said: “There has been an extremely strong reaction from CTC members, cyclists and from politicians and we’ve been overwhelmed by the strength of feeling. For someone to have killed not just one, but two people, that suggests to us that he should be given – at least on public safety grounds – a lifetime driving ban.”

Mrs Fyfe died two days after being struck by McCourt at the junction between Portobello Road and Craigentinny Avenue on August 9, 2011.

Mrs Fyfe’s daughter, Aileen, who now lives in the south-west of England, said: “Gary McCourt had a previous conviction for reckless driving in a hit-and-run and that should have been a reason to increase his sentence. He has apparently got post-traumatic stress disorder – well, my dad has had his life taken away.” She added:“What message does this sentence send out to other road users?”

McCourt, of Niddrie Mill Avenue, was convicted after a trial last month.

Explaining his sentencing, Sheriff James Scott sparked outrage after he suggested Mrs Fyfe had “contributed significantly” to her death by 
failing to wear a helmet.

Cyclist and Green 
councillor Gavin Corbett said the number of people who had come forward to support the CTC campaign had been “staggering”.

He said: “I’ve seen some of the letters and know that they convey some of the anger and dismay that cyclists feel about Sheriff Scott’s outrageous comments.

“It is surely now inevitable that the Crown Office reviews the way this entire case was conducted with the aim of reassuring cyclists and other vulnerable road users that their safety is paramount in the eyes of the law.”

George Dalgity was cycling along Regent Road at 1am on October 18, 1985 when McCourt smashed into him, causing horrific injuries including brain stem damage.

Speaking about the petition, sister Ann said: “I’m delighted that people care so much.”

A Crown Office spokesman said: “No decision has been reached.”