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Elderly driver tells Inverness court he did not see cyclist victim

By SPP Reporter

Murdo Morrison at court
Murdo Morrison at court

An elderly pensioner who killed a neighbour in a road accident as she cycled to Drumnadrochit last year will be sentenced by a sheriff next month.

Murdo Morrison, (73), from Kinloch, Balnain was driving towards Drumnadrochit on the morning of July 22 when his car collided with cyclist 59 year-old Mary Brook on the A831 at Milton.

When Morrison’s vehicle clipped the rear wheel of Ms Brook’s bicycle in Oakbank Road she struck the windscreen then was thrown down an embankment.

He admitted a charge of causing death by careless driving.

Depute fiscal Michelle Molley describing events leading up to the tragedy.

She told Inverness Sheriff Court that Ms Brook was a fit, healthy woman who had a smallholding at Lochletter Farm Cottage, not far from Mr Morrison’s home, and she regularly cycled the five miles into Drumnadrochit.

Unmarried, the fiscal said Ms Brook lived in an isolated rural location, and was described by her family as an active woman, a ’fairweather cyclist’ who was experienced and safety conscious.

The fiscal told the court Ms Brook set off on her bike for Drumnadrochit in the morning and Morrison left his home about 8.20am in his car.

They were on a straight stretch of road where the speed limit dropped from the national speed limit of 60mph to 50mph.

About 8.30am Morrison’s car caught up with Ms Brook on a straight stretch of road.

She said according to the accident report Morrison would have had a clear view of 250 metres as he approached the cyclist and it was estimated he was travelling at between 33 and 46mph.

"The front near-side corner of his car collided with the rear wheel of the bike. The deceased impacted on the windscreen of Morrison’s car and was thrown forward and away from the car coming to rest down an embankment."

The fiscal described how passing motorists and residents came to assist but there was nothing they could do.

A retired GP confirmed Ms Brook was dead at 9am at the scene.

One witness recalled Morrison saying he didn’t see her.

"Another asked if he hit her. He replied ‘Yes’," said the fiscal.

Investigations revealed no defects with Morrison’s vehicle and no blame was apportioned to Ms Brook who was correctly positioned on the road at the point of impact.

Mr Morrison later told police: "I saw a cyclist in front of me so I slowly came up to avoid her. Then just out of the blue suddenly I felt the impact."

Morrison said he stopped the car and saw he had hit the cyclist.

"I can’t understand," his statement continued. "I thought I’d left enough space between the cyclist and my car."

Morrison said he thought he was driving between 15 and 20mph at the time of impact.

The fiscal said a post mortem revealed Ms Brook had died of chest and spinal injuries.

Defence solicitor Ken Ferguson said he would reserve his plea in mitigation until reports were available.

But he told Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist that Morrison had not driven since the tragedy.

"His licence would appear to have expired and he doesn’t hold a licence now," said Mr Ferguson.

Sheriff Gilchrist continued bail and deferred sentence for reports on Morrison, who had no previous convictions.

He was ordained to appear for sentence on November 19.

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