HMA v ARCHIBALD DICKSON

At the High Court in Glasgow Lady Scott sentenced Archibald Dickson to 4 years and 4 months in prison after he pled guilty to causing death by dangerous driving on 16 June 2012.

On sentencing Lady Scott made the following statement in court:

“This is a tragic and difficult case. You have pled guilty to dangerous driving  whereby you caused the death of Mark Sanders, a popular and much loved young man who was in the prime of his life.

In the early hours of Saturday 16th June of last year Mark Sanders and his friend Gordon Wilson, were walking home to Duntocher from a night out, a distance of about a half mile.  Both men had had few drinks but neither were drunk.  They turned into Milton Douglas Road which is a two lane undivided carriageway with a narrow footpath on one side. Mr Wilson walked on the footpath and Mr Sanders walked beside him at the edge of the road.  They were both vulnerable pedestrians who took the precaution of walking in the direction facing the oncoming traffic. There was in fact very little traffic at that time. I have studied the photographs and maps produced.  Visibility was good and it was getting light.

You drove your Mercedes Benz vehicle on the wrong side of the road and drove into Mr Sanders from behind, whereby he flew through the air before landing on the footpath. He immediately sustained a very bad head injury, with extensive bleeding and a very short time later he was pronounced dead whilst within the ambulance.

Immediately after striking Mr Sanders you stopped and got out of the car. Mr Wilson says he shouted at you for help. Whether or not you did not hear him, you must have realised something serious had occurred, at the least you had heard a thump and I have seen the photographs of the damage to your car, which you should have noticed. But without making further enquiry you simply drove away. You have also pled guilty to charge 2, namely  that you failed to stop and give your details in contravention of s170(2) and(4) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

In this kind of case, the starting point for me is to assess the culpability of your conduct or driving.  I consider your driving falls within level 2 of the sentencing guidelines. Driving on the wrong side of the road is blatantly dangerous. The only explanation for your doing so and your failure to avoid Mr Sanders, appears to be the combined influence of fatigue and alcohol. . Perhaps you had fallen asleep at the wheel. But the fact that you chose to drive when you knew you were very tired, renders your conduct more serious. This is significantly aggravated by your having consumed alcohol.  You admitted drinking in the early evening and you were recorded drinking about 2-3 pints of lager about 45 minutes before the collision. The amount of your drinking is unknown because you failed to stop and provide details at the scene. In these circumstances that failure to stop is a separate and serious matter.

On the other hand I accept the information that suggests that your dangerous driving was short lived and certainly not prolonged and that you were not driving at excessive speed.

Generally in your favour I accept that when you realised later that day, without doubt as to what you had done, you went to the police and confessed. This was after a twist of fate where, when in your local café, another regular customer, Mr McHugh, told you of the tragic killing of his nephew that morning by a hit and run, near Duntocher.

 I have taken account of all that has been said on your behalf by your counsel. You offered to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity and I accept that your plea saved witnesses from giving evidence and court time.  I accept too that you have real remorse and that you will carry the guilt of what you have done for the rest of your life. You appear at fifty four years of age with one prior conviction for speeding in 2008.  At the time of this conduct you were in something of a crisis following upon the breakdown of your marriage of some 30 years.  I have read the various testimonials and take into account that you are a man of generally good character who has made a significant contribution to the community through voluntary work.

Finally I wish to make it clear that no sentence that I impose upon you can, or is intended to, reflect the loss suffered by Mark Sanders family, girlfriend and friends, who are left forever bereft of a man, so very much loved and with so much more to give. I have read the victim impact statements from his family which are eloquent of their dignity and compassion in the face of such a devastating loss.

Balancing all of these factors I sentence you as follows :

In respect of charge 1 I would have imposed a sentence of 6 years imprisonment, but I will discount that period to reflect you early plea of guilty, to a sentence of 4 years imprisonment.  I disqualify you from obtaining or holding a driving licence for a period of 6 years reduced from 9 years because of your early plea. Your licence is endorsed and you will require to re-sit an extended driving test.

In respect of charge 2 I sentence you to 4 months imprisonment reduced from the statutory maximum of 6 months to reflect you plea of guilty – to be served consecutively to the sentence for charge 1. Your licence will be endorsed.

In total then you are sentenced to 4years and 4 months imprisonment to be backdated to 25th April 2013”.

 

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