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Driver avoids ban for knocking cyclist off bike

A DRIVER who knocked an experienced cyclist off her bike on the outskirts of Lerwick, leaving her unconscious in the middle of the road, has been given ten penalty points and fines totalling £750.

While the woman sustained no serious injuries, procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the keen cyclist’s confidence had been badly knocked following the 17 March incident.

Paul White, of Gaet-A-Gott in Tingwall, admitted at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday a charge of careless driving on the A970 at Frakkafield which saw him fail to notice the bicycle ahead of him before colliding with it.

The 33 year old also pleaded guilty to failing to give his name and address and reporting the incident to police within 24 hours.

Mackenzie said the total financial cost for the woman was around £5,230, with the £1,000 bicycle and specialist clothing damaged beyond repair, while she also lost money which had already been paid for competing in events.

The fiscal said the cyclist had lights on the front and rear of her bike, while she also wore a hi-visibility jacket, as she took to the road just after 7pm.

The court heard that the cyclist was travelling uphill near to the Frakkafield junction when the incident happened.

White – driving a Ford Transit pick-up – was behind another vehicle which overtook the bicycle, and he followed.

The 33 year old, however, failed to notice the cyclist and he collided with her real wheel, causing her to be thrown to the ground and become temporarily unconscious.

White, as well as the driver of another vehicle, continued before both stopping in a lay-by around half a kilometre away.

Both drivers began walking to the scene of the accident, Mackenzie said, but another witness had already found the now-conscious cyclist and had taken her to hospital before they arrived at the location.

Mackenzie said White returned home thinking he had hit something, but he wasn’t sure what. However, he turned himself in two days later after reading in local media that police were looking for information.

“It is fortunate that the complainer suffered no significant physical injury,” the fiscal said, but he said she suffered emotionally.

Sheriff Philip Mann noted that sentencing rules meant that he could not take into account the effect of the incident had on the cyclist, but Mackenzie said he still wanted to stress the “degree of impact” it had.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said his client, who works as a brick layer, was “deeply sorry” for the accident.

He said it was dark at the time of the offence and White simply did not see the cyclist when he followed the car in front.

The solicitor said his client “saw something orange and heard a sound”.

Allan said White had to drive until he found a safe location to stop, and while he jogged down to the scene, the cyclist had already gone.

He suggested that his client’s failure to report the incident as soon as he could was due to “shock” and Allan added that White sat in his vehicle for five minutes afterwards anticipating that someone would come to speak to him.

The solicitor said the insurance process was ongoing, but he added that White would be happy to pay any compensation.

Sheriff Philip Mann said he was prepared to accept that White didn’t see the cyclist and he could understand how it could have happened if he was following a vehicle.

The failure to report the accident was an offence which may have “amply merited a period of disqualification”, but as a discount for his early plea, the sheriff decided to give him the maximum amount of penalty points to leave him on the cusp of a ban.

He was fined £500 for that charge and another £250 for the careless driving offence.