Tayside and Central Scotland

Driver avoids jail over death of cyclist Sally Preece

Kenneth McClelland and Sally Preece Image copyright Central Scotland News
Image caption Kenneth McClelland hit Sally Preece while he was overtaking another vehicle

A 77-year-old driver whose mistakes caused the death of a woman taking part in a charity cycle ride has been spared jail because of his age.

Kenneth McClelland overtook without making proper checks and collided with Sally Preece who was coming the other way on her bike in September 2014.

Ms Preece, from Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, died of her injuries the following day.

The crash happened on the A85 near Killin, Stirling.

The 49-year-old cyclist was a week into a nine-day Land's-End-to-John-O'Groats cycle to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society.

McClelland, from Largs in Ayrshire, had earlier admitted causing her death by careless driving.

At Stirling Sheriff Court, the sheriff sentenced McClelland to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work, banned him from driving for five years, and ordered him to re-sit his test before ever driving again.

Sheriff William Gilchrist said McClelland's offence could have led to imprisonment.

"However, given your age, I do not think it would be appropriate to impose a short period of imprisonment, which would be essentially a matter of weeks," he said.

The pensioner, who suffers from angina and arthritis, was returning with his wife from a caravan holiday, when he overtook a "slow, elderly campervan", and the car behind it on a mountain pass, ploughing into mother-of-two who was coming the other way on her bike.

The wing mirror of his Volvo S40 caught Mrs Preece's handlebars, and then she was caught by the wheel of a bike that McClelland himself was carrying on a rack on the back of his car.

She was thrown more than 30 metres, coming to rest in the middle of the single-carriageway A85 trunk road.

Tragic events

Solicitor Alexander Currie, defending, said McClelland, who had a 55-year unblemished driving record before the accident, "tendered his condolences" to Mrs Preece's family.

Sheriff Gilchrist told McClelland: "These were tragic events, obviously for Mrs Sally Preece, but also for her family.

"I have read victim impact statements from her husband, her mother and her father, and it is quite clear, as it inevitably would be, that they are suffering terribly as a result of the loss of Sally.

"The consequences of your driving that day were the most serious -- they resulted in a fatality."

Mrs Preece's husband Phil and other members of her family were in court to see McClelland sentenced.

Mr Preece looked dumbstruck as the sheriff announced that McClelland would avoid jail, but afterwards he refused to comment on the outcome.

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