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Cyclist jailed for two years over tragic hit-and-run crash with NHS hospital worker

·3-min read

A ‘cowardly’ cyclist who ran over and badly injured an NHS hospital worker in a hit-and-run crash has been jailed for two years.

Ermir Loka, 23, ignored a red traffic light in the seconds before he hit 72-year-old Peter McCombie on July 3, 2020, who was on his way home from a shift at the Royal London hospital.

Mr McCombie, a HR administrator who was helping the NHS battle against Covid-19, suffered serious head injuries and died in hospital just over a week later.

Snaresbrook crown court heard Loka, an Albanian national who had entered the UK illegally, fled the scene of the crash as he was scared that his immigration status would be discovered. 

He eventually handed himself in to police after an appeal by Mr McCombie’s devastated family.  

Loka was cleared at trial of manslaughter but convicted of causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving, and this week received a two-year jail sentence.  

“He left Peter laying in a busy road, seriously injured, and thought only of himself at that time”, Mr McCombie’s family said in a statement.

Peter McCombie died eight days after the collision
Peter McCombie died eight days after the collision

“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 unforgiveable. We are glad that the jury saw through his lies and that he has been convicted.” 

The crash happened as Hackney-born Mr McCombie walked home from work at around 5pm. Colleagues at Barts NHS Health Trust said he was a popular member of staff who had chosen to continue coming into the hospital during the pandemic, rather than working from home.

One cyclist narrowly missed Mr McCombie as he crossed Bow Road in east London, but Loka then hit him after running a red light.  

CCTV proved Loka had eight seconds to see and stop for the traffic lights. He came off his bike in the crash, but quickly remounted and cycled away.  

CCTV of Loka
CCTV of Loka

In the aftermath of Mr McCombie’s death, his sister Christine pleaded with the cyclist to hand himself in and “do the right thing for Peter and our family”.

The family said today: "Peter’s loss has been immeasurable and has left a gap in our lives that we will never be able to fill. He was a man who loved his family, who had time for his circle of valued friends, and worked hard for his colleagues. He was a complete gentleman and everyone that knew him has been united in grief at the manner in which he was taken from us. 

“The shock of losing him so abruptly, so suddenly, so unnecessarily, is something that will haunt us for a very long time to come. Peter still had so much left to do and enjoy with us and we have been robbed of that by the actions of this selfish man, who cycled into him and then immediately got up and fled.”

Following the sentencing hearing, 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. 

"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.”

Loka, from Walthamstow, denied both charges against him. He is due to be released from prison after serving half the two-year sentence while awaiting his trial.

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