A businessman jailed for causing the death of a top Irish road cyclist by dangerous driving must have a retrial because the jury was not given the chance to consider an alternative charge, the Court of Appeal has declared.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said the failure to present the option of careless driving amounted to an irregularity which made Michael Croome's conviction unsafe.
The court has quashed Croome's conviction for the events which led to David McCall being killed.
Mr McCall (46), a Commonwealth Games medallist, was |fatally injured as he raced with a group of cyclists on the Belfast Road at Nutts Corner, Co Antrim, in August 2008.
Croome (28), with addresses at Cliftonville Road, Belfast, and Priory Warf, Chester, had been rushing to catch a plane at the time.
He denied causing the death of the Lisburn-based cyclist by dangerous driving.
It was claimed that because of a small black dog the victim's bike swerved into the path of Croome’s Peugeot 306.
Croome was jailed for five years and banned from driving for five years in March last year.
The businessman based his appeal on claims that the trial judge erred in not leaving the jury with an alternative charge of causing death by careless driving. Setting out reasons for ordering a retrial, Sir Declan pointed out that on the third day of the trial the jury sent a note to the judge asking at which point careless driving became dangerous driving.
They were told that they would be given proper directions on all relevant aspects of the law at the end of the trial, but should concentrate on the facts of the case for the time-being.
At the end of the evidence, counsel for both the prosecution and defence addressed the judge on whether the jury should be directed that they could bring an alternative verdict of causing death by careless driving.