Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cycling Death Fatality Negligence Unlicensed Driver 12 Seconds Inattention Suspended Four Month Jail Sentence Tasmania Hobart Mercury 12.9.14



"The magistrate sentenced McCulloch to four months’ jail, but suspended the sentence 

on condition he not commit another offence punishable by a prison term for three years."





Mr Daley said the ­cyclists would have been visible to McCulloch for up to 12 seconds before the crash and no blame could be attached to Mr Saunders.






“Given he was found guilty and there was no obvious reason he shouldn’t have seen the riders, this seems to be a very light sentence,” Ms Pharo said.







Michael Lee McCulloch handed suspended term for causing the death of cyclist Craig Saunders by negligent driving 

DAVID KILLICK MERCURY SEPTEMBER 12, 2014 12:00AM


Family and friends of deceased cyclist Craig Saunders, including riding buddy Steve Barre
Family and friends of deceased cyclist Craig Saunders, including riding buddy Steve Barrett, far right, outside court after sentencing.

AN unlicensed driver who failed to see a cyclist wearing high-visibility clothing in daylight on a straight stretch of road has been given a suspended jail term for killing the man. 

The sentence was condemned as inadequate by the state’s peak cycling body.

Michael Lee McCulloch, 50, was last week found guilty of causing the death of another person by negligent driving.

McCulloch pleaded guilty to driving while not the holder of a driver’s ­licence

Hobart Magistrates Court heard McCulloch did not swerve or brake before he drove his ute at 80km/h into Pelverata man Craig Saunders, 57, on the road between Huonville and Cygnet on the morning of ­August 5 last year.

Mr Saunders died on the way to hospital.

Michael Lee McCulloch, 50, of Ranelagh, leaves the Hobart Magistrates Court after yesterd

Michael Lee McCulloch, 50, of Ranelagh, leaves the Hobart Magistrates Court after yesterday’s sentencing.

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.

McCulloch said he didn’t see Mr Saunders or his riding companion Steve Barrett in the seconds before the collision. His claim the sun was in his eyes was ­rejected by Deputy Chief Magistrate Michael Daley.

During sentencing yesterday, Mr Daley noted McCulloch was unlicensed at the time and that he had a poor driving record, including four convictions for drink-driving.

Victim impact statements from Mr Saunders’s partner and children were tendered to the court.

Mr Barrett, who was riding with Mr Saunders at the time, told the court he continued to be plagued with memories of the crash and pleaded with motorists to take more care.

“Cyclists are fragile, with little protection. We just ask for respect and a few ­moments of a driver’s time. If this was forthcoming, fewer people would have to go through the ordeal we have all just experienced,” he said.

Mr Daley said the ­cyclists would have been visible to McCulloch for up to 12 seconds before the crash and no blame could be attached to Mr Saunders.

“If the defendant has been keeping a proper lookout he would have seen him,” he said.

“Cyclists simply were not on Mr McCulloch’s radar.”

The magistrate said a jail term was the only appropriate penalty in the case.

“I must send a message to the community that inattentive driving — and inattentive driving in the case of cyclists — is to be taken seriously,” he said.

Defence lawyer Steve Chopping said his client wished to apologise to Mr Saunders’s family.

“He will have the death of Mr Saunders on his conscience for the rest of his life,” Mr Chopping said.

The magistrate sentenced McCulloch to four months’ jail, but suspended the sentence on condition he not commit another offence punishable by a prison term for three years.

The father-of-four was ­ordered to perform 150 hours of community service and disqualified from driving for 18 months. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $1300 fine.

Mr Saunders’s family and friends were present at court during the proceedings.

Bicycle Tasmania’s Emma Pharo said tougher penalties would provide greater protection for cyclists

“Given he was found guilty and there was no obvious reason he shouldn’t have seen the riders, this seems to be a very light sentence,” Ms Pharo said.

“There needs to be dis­incentives for drivers who aren’t careful.

“In serious offences like this one, some drivers should be disqualified for life.”



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