Belfast Telegraph

Crash victim Gavin Moore's family devastated as driver will spend six months in jail

Hing Tong Cheung
Hing Tong Cheung
Gavin Moore

By Paul Higgins

The family of a cyclist killed by a dangerous driver have hit out after a judge said the man responsible for the death would spend six months behind bars.

Father-of-two Gavin Moore (40), a member of North Down Cycling Club, died after the collision on the Newtownards to Bangor dual carriageway on July 11, 2017.

Ordering 61-year-old Hing Tong 'Steve' Cheung - a father, grandfather and former chairman of the NI Chinese chamber of commerce - to spend half his 12-month sentence in prison and half on supervised licence, Downpatrick Crown Court Judge Neil Rafferty QC also banned him from driving for three years.

Mr Moore's father Jim, however, lambasted the sentence handed to Cheung.

Mr Moore said: "All I wish to say really is that I don't think that justice has been done.

"There's two lads who have no dad, the family has no son, no brother, brother-in-law or uncle and other boys have no step-dad - but he will be out running about in six months and Gavin isn't here for us to see him."

Last month on the second day of his trial, Cheung, from Hanover Hill in Bangor, admitted causing the death of Mr Moore and causing grievous bodily injury to another cyclist, Gareth Boyle, by driving dangerously on the Bangor Road in Newtownards on July 11, 2017.

Mr Moore and his friend Mr Boyle were out with a group of four cyclists from North Down Cycling Club when they were struck by a Hyundai 4x4.

Tragically, Mr Moore died in hospital as a result of his injuries while Mr Boyle was left in a critical condition.

Mr Boyle also criticised the sentence but paid tribute to the people who stopped to help.

"Unfortunately I do not believe the sentences imposed by the judge on someone who killed Gavin and caused serious injury to me and my friends is sufficient," he said.

"I am concerned that the court has imposed only a one-year prison sentence and a three-year driving ban on someone whose dangerous driving caused such significant impact on my life and the life of so many more.

"In Northern Ireland particularly I believe that all road users need to be more aware of cyclists on the road and I hope the prison sentence, even the limited one given, will help make all road users more aware of the dangers they face to cyclists and others by a lack of concentration.

"I want to acknowledge the people who stopped at the scene of the accident and effectively saved my life by their actions."

Judges are bound by sentencing guidelines and must take into account mitigating circumstances, such as early guilty pleas, co-operation with police and remorse, as well as aggravating factors, such as intent and excessive violence.

During his sentencing remarks, Judge Rafferty said he had been "intensely moved" by the victim impact statements, including one from Mr Moore's partner Joanne Ryan who herself had sadly passed away on October 12.

Quoting from her statement the judge described how Ms Ryan wrote that "my world, again, broken", outlining to the court that "what comes across is the love and affection and normality that has been destroyed by what happened on July 11".

A clearly emotional Judge Rafferty said he had "rarely dealt with a case that had visited such tragedy upon people who could not be less deserving of it".

Addressing a packed and tearful public gallery, he told them he had to balance the seriousness of the offence with mitigation in favour of the defendant, including his guilty plea and impeccable good character. "I apologise for not being able to give you what you deserve which is the restoration of Gavin and the restoration of health," the judge said. "I can only hope that you find some solace in what has happened today."

The jury heard the four friends were on the return leg of their route around the Ards Peninsula when the accident occurred.

In a 2 x 2 formation, the group were on the inside lane of the Bangor dual carriageway near Conlig when the impact happened as a result of Cheung's "inexplicable failure to avoid a collision".

Mr Moore was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast but died that afternoon.

A post mortem examination found the cause of death was a "severe neck injury", while Mr Boyle suffered a "burst fracture" to his second lumbar vertebrae in addition to injuries to his ribs and right elbow.

Forensic experts examined the scene and were able to ascertain Cheung would have been able to see approximately 220m ahead on the carriageway and at the point of impact his car was travelling between 50-60mph.

Mr Moore, who was at the back of the group, was carried along the carriageway for about 80m after he was struck.

Tyre marks indicated that Cheung had been braking hard for just over 50m of that.

While a driver behind Cheung's vehicle told police he saw the cyclists ahead, the defendant told police he had no memory of seeing the group before he struck them, suggesting he "must have fallen asleep" before hearing a thud and braking heavily.

The jury heard there was no evidence of alcohol having been consumed and no evidence that his mobile phone was being used at the time of the tragic accident.

Defence counsel Samuel Magee told the court that "from each and every angle the circumstances of this case are nothing short of a tragedy" and that it was clear from the various reports and "raft of testimonials" that Cheung "has expressed the most deep and genuine remorse for what happened".

With Cheung repeatedly wiping away tears, Mr Magee told the judge: "Like anyone in this court, he never envisaged standing in the dock of a Crown Court, looking down the barrels of an immediate custodial sentence... he is utterly devastated."

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