'No point' in jail for driver who killed cyclist

Image caption,
The judge at Newtownards Magistrates Court said the sentence 'may outrage the family'

A County Down man who killed a cyclist has been sentenced to 100 hours community service after a judge said he saw "no point" in sending him to jail.

William Lappin, 55, of Circular Road, Newtownards, admitted causing the death of Stephen Lynch by careless driving.

The judge at Newtownards Magistrates' Court said the maximum sentence was three months.

"I may outrage the family, I don't know but I'm just not going to do it," he added.

He said ordering a jail sentence would mean Lappin "will be out in six weeks".


Mr Lynch, aged 50 and a father-of-five, died at the scene after his bicycle was struck by Lappin's Renault Scenic car on the Bangor Road in the town, on 6 October 2016.

A forensic accident investigator examined the scene and estimated Lappin had struck the back wheel of the bicycle while travelling at around 50 mph in the 70 mph zone - and there was no evidence that he had tried to brake prior to the impact.

The expert's opinion was that Lappin would have had a view of Mr Lynch's bike from 62 metres, a distance which he would have covered in 2.8 seconds, a prosecution lawyer said.

While street lighting was working and Mr Lynch had a light on the front of his bicycle, there was no light on the back of the bike and he was not wearing reflective clothing, added the lawyer.

The court heard a passer-by at the scene had asked Lappin if he was okay, but he replied: "I will never be alright, I killed that man."

Lappin told police he was "blowing his nose" at the time of the impact and didn't see Mr Lynch, the lawyer said.

Lappin's defence lawyer said "this was literally a matter of seconds in which a moment's inattention has had such tragic consequences".

Imposing the community service order and a 12-month driving ban, the judge said the case served as a warning to drivers, as well as to cyclists to have working lights and reflective clothing.

"Anybody in this court room who is a driver can be guilty of inattention, a moment of carelessness, anyone could end up in the same position of Mr Lapin following a few seconds inattention," he added.