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'I don't know how or why Jason died& police probe was inadequate

Scotsman.com: ’I don’t know how or why Jason died… police probe was inadequate’ – widow

Published Date: 05 February 2010
By MARTYN McLAUGHLIN

THE widow of a champion cyclist killed in a road accident has condemned the "half-hearted" police inquiries which "raised more questions than they answered".

Jason MacIntyre, who raced for Scotland at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, died in January 2008 after being struck by a van.

The 34-year-old had been training near his home in Fort William in the hope of making Britain’s team for the Beijing Olympic Games.

Robert McTaggart, the driver of the Highland Council Transit van, subsequently pleaded guilty at Fort William Sheriff Court to careless driving. He was fined £500 and banned for six months.

However, two years on, Caroline MacIntyre believes the full circumstances behind the death of her husband, a triple British and Scottish champion time-trial cyclist, have not been made clear. Speaking ahead of a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) into Mr MacIntyre’s death, which is due to be held in Fort William next month, the 33-year-old struggled to contain her emotions as she described how she has been unable to grieve properly.

She said: "I know where and when Jason died, but not how or why, and that makes it so difficult for me to come to terms with losing him."

She and her legal team claim Northern Constabulary must address a series of concerns about how Mr MacIntyre’s death was examined.

"The police inquiry into his death was so inadequate and half-hearted, it raised more questions than it answered," she added. "They didn’t even close the road to investigate the accident scene, and then they examined the wrong part of the road.

"But, despite all that, it’s taken two years to get Crown Office officials to agree to hold an FAI."

Mrs MacIntyre, who has 11-year-old twins, Chloe and Morgan, said she was determined to help other families whose lives might be touched by tragedy.

"I don’t think I’ll ever cope with losing Jason. You can’t have a husband like him and ever get over losing him. As long as I get up each day and help the girls get a smile on their face, I’ve done my job."

She also said she wanted to see cyclists better protected on the roads, adding: "There wasn’t a more aware cyclist on the road than Jason, but the protection of cyclists has to go up. People who are driving have to remember they are in control, or are not in control, of a dangerous vehicle."

Her solicitor, Patrick McGuire, said he believed there were "a number of strong grounds" for the upcoming FAI.

Mr McGuire, who described Mrs MacIntyre’s two-year wait as "verging on inhuman", said: "We simply don’t accept the Crown’s position that all the relevant facts had been established when the van driver appeared in court.

"In most accidents there is immediate recognition of the likely factors that caused it to happen. In this particular case, we remain completely in the dark."

Condemning the wait for the FAI, he added: "The system makes the grieving worse for relatives. It fails to understand how human beings deal with the loss of a loved one."

A spokesman for Northern Constabulary said it would be "inappropriate" to respond to Mrs MacIntyre’s allegations.