The family of a 72-year-old man who died after a hit and run incident involving a cyclist has spoken of their “immeasurable” loss, after the cyclist received a prison sentence this week.
Ermir Loka, 23, jumped a red light on his bicycle and collided with Peter McCombie in Tower Hamlets on 3 July 2020, leaving the pedestrian with serious injuries from which he died in hospital eight days later.
Loka, who fled the scene of the crash, was sentenced to two years in prison at Snaresbrook Crown Court on July 26, after being convicted of causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving on July 15. He was found not guilty of manslaughter.
In a statement, McCombie’s family criticised Loka’s “selfish” actions, saying: “Peter’s loss has been immeasurable and has left a gap in our lives that we will never be able to fill.”
They said: “He left Peter laying in a busy road, seriously injured, and thought only of himself at that time. That kind of cowardice is beyond contempt. The anger we feel towards him is beyond words. We cannot even bear to say his name.
“He denied his actions and put us through the trauma of a trial, where we saw exactly what happened and lived our grief again and again. His actions are unforgivable. We are glad that the jury saw through his lies and that he has been convicted.”
CCTV showed the collision taking place as McCombie crossed Bow Road.
A cyclist passing through stationary traffic narrowly avoided the pedestrian as he crossed the road, before a second cyclist, Loka, came through a red light and collided with him.
Members of the public called police and paramedics but Loka, who had come off his bicycle, got up and rode off.
McCombie was taken to hospital but he died over a week later, with a post-mortem giving the cause of death as traumatic head injuries.
After several appeals to the media and public, Loka handed himself in to a police station on July 28.
Loka, an Albanian national who had entered the country illegally, claimed that he fled after the collision because he had panicked about the consequences for his immigration status.
Using CCTV footage, police established that Loka had around eight seconds to stop as he approached the traffic lights as they changed from green to red.
He was charged and remanded in custody before the trial, time which will be taken into account in his maximum sentence of two years.
In a statement from the Metropolitan Police, Detective Sergeant Eddie Coleman said: “Peter McCombie was a fit and active man who had had continued to work well past his retirement age. He was much loved by his family and friends and well liked by his colleagues.
“My sympathies remain with Peter’s family, who have been through so much and supported us so steadfastly throughout our investigation and this trial. I would like to thank them for their courage and bravery and hope they know we have done the best we could for them, and for Peter.
“It can only be said that Loka’s actions were reckless and dangerous and entirely avoidable. If Loka had only just slowed and stopped at the red traffic light, we would not be here today.”
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