HMA v ANDREW DUFFY

At the High Court in Glasgow Lord Matthews sentenced Andrew Duffy to four years imprisonment after he was found guilty of causing the death of a man by dangerous driving in Greenock on 8 November 2011.

On sentencing Lord Matthews made the following statement in court:

7 February 2014

“Andrew Duffy, you were found guilty of causing, by dangerous driving, the death of George Sweeney, a much loved brother, father and grandfather. Indeed, since he died there was born a great-grandchild and it only compounds the tragedy that the two never met.

Nothing I say and in particular no sentence I pass, can ever modify or compensate for the family’s terrible, needless and untimely loss.

I remember the evidence in this case and have listened carefully to what has been said on your behalf.

In cases of this kind it is only in exceptional circumstances that a court can refrain from imposing a custodial sentence.  Quite properly, Mr Ross has not embarked on the futile exercise of trying to persuade me that such circumstances exist in this case. He has, on the other hand, invited me to take the view that this case is towards the lower end of the scale of such matters.

In deciding on the appropriate sentence to pass I have to take account of a number of factors. The most obvious one is your culpability for what happened as shown by the standard of driving exhibited in the evidence. There are ranges of culpability from momentary errors of judgment to a persistent course of dangerous driving. I also have to look at the consequences of your conduct, your behaviour after the event, any remorse exhibited by you and your personal circumstances, including your record.

In this case the evidence showed that before the accident you undertook an overtaking manoeuvre which it is fair, I think, to describe as an example of bad driving. Some two miles further along the road you failed to negotiate a bend and that led directly to the collision which caused Mr Sweeney’s death.

There was evidence about certain remarks you made about your speed but you remained at the scene after the collision and co-operated fully with the investigation, showing an appropriate degree of remorse.

You have a record, mostly for non-analogous offences, but it is of concern that only 5 days before this collision you were fined £225 and had your licence endorsed for a contravention of Section 170(2) and (4) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, failing to stop and report, and on 3 January 2012 you were fined £270 and disqualified for 1 year for driving under the influence of drink or drugs, an offence which, according to the list of convictions I have been given, was committed in July 2011.

You have attempted, despite your medical problems, to gain useful employment and are now settled down with a family. That family life will now be disrupted but, of course, that is of nothing compared to the disruption you caused to Mr Sweeney’s family.

In all the circumstances I have decided that the appropriate sentence in your case, which will run from today’s date will be one of 4 years imprisonment. In addition you will be disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of 6 years and until you pass the extended test of competence to drive.”