• MySTV

Judges reject appeal to increase sentence of motorist who killed cyclist

Prosecutors had asked judges to increase the sentence of Gary McCourt who knocked Audrey Fyfe off her bike in Edinburgh in August 2011.

Gary McCourt who killed cyclist Audrey Fyfe by knocking her off her bike on Portobello Road, Edinurgh in August 2011.

Prosecutors have had their appeal to increase the sentence of a motorist who knocked a pensioner off her bike killing her rejected.

Gary McCourt’s careless driving caused the death of Audrey Fyfe when he collided with her on Portobello Road in Edinburgh on August 11, 2011. The 75-year-old, from Joppa, died in hospital from a head injury two days later.

McCourt was sentenced to 300 hours community service and banned from driving for five years by Sheriff James Scott in May after being convicted of driving without undue care and attention.

Sheriff Scott said the pensioner "contributed" to her death by not wearing a safety helmet. He also said he was not able to impose a jail sentence on McCourt because there were no aggravating factors like drink and drug abuse present in the offence.

After his conviction, it was revealed McCourt was jailed for two years in 1986 after being found guilty of causing the death of cyclist George Dalgity by reckless driving. The 22-year-old was cycling along Regent Road in Edinburgh in October 1985 when he was knocked down by McCourt.

Prosecutors appealed McCourt’s sentence for causing Ms Fyfe’s death, calling it "unduly lenient" and asking for him to be jailed for a minimum of eight months. They also called for the driving ban to be increased.

Audrey Fyfe

Audrey Fyfe died two days after being knocked off her bike in August 2011.

On Wednesday, appeal judges Lord Menzies, Lord Glennie and Lady Dorrian denied their appeal and the original sentence stands.

They said too much time had passed between the two convictions for it to be taken into account.

The judgement said: "The court stated that it is perhaps easy to take a superficial view that by his bad driving the respondent has caused the death of two people in two road accidents over 27 years and that this required to be marked with a sentence of imprisonment."

The comment from Sheriff Scott about Ms Fyfe contributing to her death by not wearing a helmet caused particular upset to her family and sparked outrage from cycling charities.

On Wednesday, appeal judges said the sheriff had been wrong to make that conclusion.

They said: "On sentencing, the sheriff remarked that Mrs Fyfe’s failure to wear a helmet may have contributed to her death.

"It is clear from the material placed before the court at the appeal hearing that there is a degree of controversy as to the efficacy of cycle helmets in preventing death. The court considered that the sheriff was wrong to regard this as a matter of judicial knowledge."

Despite this, they did not agree the sentence was "unduly lenient" and denied the appeal.

Regarding the driving ban, they said: "This is a disqualification for a significant number of years, and even after those years have expired, the respondent will not be able to drive (if indeed he wishes to do so) until he has passed the extended test of competence."

Following his sentencing in May, the families of Audrey Fyfe and George Dalgity joined forces to campaign for a larger sentence.

On Wednesday, Mrs Fyfe's daughter Aileen Brown said the failure of the appeal left her "lost for words".

She said: "There was a unanimous vote in parliament earlier this month to strengthen the enforcement of road traffic law, to ensure that driving offences - especially those resulting in death or injury - are treated sufficiently seriously by police, prosecutors and judges.

"The police here did an admirable job for us but the Scottish justice system appears to have had complete disregard for government policy.

"Scotland led the way in the smoking ban and minimum pricing on alcohol. The decision to allow Gary McCourt and drivers like him to drive again suggests that the judiciary are frightened to grasp the nettle and make decisions which would make our country a safer place to live."

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.


We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.


Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.


Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.



Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.