HMA v KEITH MCCARDLE

At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Doherty sentenced Keith McCardle to 5 years imprisonment for causing death by dangerous driving.

 On sentencing Lord Doherty made the following statement in court:

“Keith McCardle, you have pled guilty to causing the death of Gavin Fulton by dangerous driving. You lost control of your vehicle and collided with Mr Fulton as he walked on the pavement in Dundas Street. Your dangerous driving ended Mr Fulton’s life. It has caused inestimable damage to the lives of his family and others. No sentence that I can impose can undo that damage.

You had been drinking on the evening of the offence.  You failed a breath  test at the scene of the incident. About three hours after the incident you provided two breath specimens at the police station, the lower of which had a breath alcohol content of 63 milligrams per 100 ml of breath. The legal limit is 35 mg per 100ml of breath. When you were interviewed under caution you stated that you had consumed “perhaps” four alcoholic drinks before driving the car. Standing your admission and your breath alcohol content I do not accept that there was any reasonable basis for you to believe that you would be under the drink driving limit at the time of the incident. It can reasonably be inferred from the circumstances of the incident that your driving ability and judgement were impaired by the consumption of alcohol.

While I accept that there is no evidence that your driving on the way to Dundas Street gave rise to concern, in my opinion your culpability is substantial because you decided to take the risk of driving when you knew you had consumed the quantities of alcohol which you had. I proceed on the basis that someone did indeed step on to the road and hail a taxi and that you reacted to that. However, as has been said by a very senior judge “Everyone knows, or should know, that the consumption of even small quantities of alcohol undermines the ability of any driver to apply his full concentration to the road.”

I have listened to all that has been said on your behalf. Prior to this offence you had a good work record and you had only three previous convictions at summary level. I am in no doubt however that the gravity of the offence requires that I impose a substantial prison sentence. Had it not been for your plea of guilty the sentence I would have imposed would have been one of 6 years and 3 months imprisonment with a disqualification from driving for 10 years.

In view of your plea of guilty, and the consequential utilitarian benefits for the administration of justice, the sentence which I do impose is 5 years imprisonment. That sentence will be back dated to 13 December 2013. You are also disqualified from driving for 8 years. At the end of the period of disqualification you will require to resit your driving test before you are permitted to drive again. Your licence will be endorsed.”