Saturday, June 09, 2007

Gumball Rally crash Briton freed from jail

A British driver was reunited with his family yesterday after being given a suspended sentence for causing the deaths of two people by dangerous driving in the Gumball Rally.

British driver Nicholas Morley was given a suspended sentence yesterday for causing the deaths of two people by dangerous driving in the Gumball Rally
Nicholas Morley leaves court in Struga. The British driver received a suspended sentence

Nicholas Morley, 30, had been locked in a cell in Ohrid prison, Macedonia, 23 hours a day for a month while a court decided his sentence.

He was unable to exercise, and went for stretches without food or access to a telephone to call his family or legal support.

Although he was found guilty, he was freed shortly afterwards on the suspended sentence and warned not to offend again in Macedonia for the next three years.

Upon hearing the sentence, Mr Morley said: "I love Macedonia, it is a great country."

There were fears that his sentence would be much harsher after the court refused to hear evidence from forensic experts hired by the defence to show that Mr Morley was driving at a reasonable speed.

He was taking part in the Gumball Rally, a pan-European race, when his Porsche 911 collided with the Volkswagen Golf of Vladimir Cepulyoski, 67, and his wife Margarita on May 2, killing them both.

The official forensic scientist, who was later revealed in court to be unemployed, claimed Mr Morley was driving at more than 100mph.

However, TRL, the company that reconstructed Princess Diana's fatal accident, said he was driving at about 37mph. It said the official report was "nonsensical and completely erroneous" and added that the calculations of Mr Morley's speed were "incorrect physically, mathematically and also in common sense".

Mr Morley's family said they were "delighted and relieved" that he had been freed.

"We have maintained all along that Nick was involved in a tragic accident and entirely innocent of the charges brought against him. While we are disappointed that the court has not recognised Nick's innocence, our sole focus today is to get Nick home and reunited with his family," they said in a statement.

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