Today we heard the sentencing of Gary McCourt, the driver who killed Audrey Fyfe in August 2011, and it has generated much anger. At the end of the trial it was announced that Audrey Fyfe was not the first person that he had killed. McCourt had previously been found guilty in 1986 of causing another cyclist’s death by reckless driving. After that offence he was jailed for two years, this time round he has been ordered to carry out 300 hours of community service and given a five year driving ban. There have already been a number of complaints that the sentence was unduly lenient, and that, at the very least, he should have been banned from driving for the rest of his life.

If this wasn’t enough, the Sheriff, James Scott, said that the collision between McCourt and Mrs Fyfe was caused because of a “momentary” loss of concentration. Then he went on to suggest that Mrs Fyfe contributed to her death by not wearing a “safety helmet”, so blaming the victim for her own demise. This sort of victim blaming should be totally unacceptable. Had Mrs Fyfe been walking across the road when she had been hit, there would have been no suggestion that she should have been wearing a pedestrian helmet. What if she had been pushing a pram and he had “clipped” that? Would it still be the victim’s fault? Just because she was cycling, why should she have been expected to wear a plastic hat to protect her? It is not as if it would have provided any protection or prevented her from being hit in the first place. Her death was solely due to McCourt’s actions and the jury convicted him of causing death by careless driving. Mr Scott’s comments are disgraceful and totally unacceptable. I am not the only one to feel this way:

One can only hope that there will be better training of Sheriffs in the future, there is a need to teach them why wearing cycle helmets isn’t compulsory. Lets face it, until the judiciary take safety on the roads seriously, the law will not offer protection to vulnerable road users. For this reason I urge you all to join the Pedal on Parliament protest ride on the 19th May, to call for safer roads for all!