HMA v Martin Cameron

At the High Court in Edinburgh, Judge Arthurson sentenced Martin Cameron to 2 years imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to causing the death of an elderly woman by careless driving.

11 July 2016

On sentencing, Judge Arthurson made the following statement in court:

"Martin Cameron, you have pled guilty to a charge of driving carelessly and so causing the death of Mrs Margaret Mackell. Mrs Mackell was 80 years of age when she died. She was a retired auxiliary nurse and had been widowed for some 20 years. She suffered from Alzheimer’s disease but was able to live independently. She travelled from Milngavie into Glasgow by bus several times a week and had an active social life.  Mrs Mackell is survived by three sons and a daughter and by four grandchildren. She has been described by her daughter as the glue keeping her extended family together. 

On 8 May 2013 at 4.10pm, she crossed a pedestrian crossing at the locus along with other pedestrians. You drove your car at a speed of between 8 and 17 mph through the red light at the junction in the middle lane. That speed suggests that you saw pedestrians as you passed through the traffic lights at the junction and applied your brakes. Having been struck by your vehicle, Mrs Mackell fell to the ground. She suffered multiple fractures to the right leg, right arm, ribs and pelvis. She died on 23 July 2013. All treating doctors involved in Mrs Mackell’s care whilst she was in hospital for the ten week period prior to her death have agreed that the injuries caused by you contributed or potentially contributed indirectly to her death. 

On 8 May 2013, you passed through a red traffic light driving past a stationary vehicle, causing the other pedestrians referred to in the narrative to walk or run back to the pavement or towards the central reservation.  Mrs Mackell, however, either did not see your car travelling towards her or had no time to react. Those driving west, as you did on this occasion, have an unimpeded view of the traffic lights at the junction and the pedestrian crossing beyond. You were in control of your vehicle.  The obvious conclusion to be drawn is that you must have deliberately driven through the red light, although I note that you have told the author of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report that you believed the lights to be at amber and Mr Nelson has reiterated that this morning.  I regard this accordingly as a serious case of careless driving. Put short, you made a choice to proceed and drive on through a red light. This was not a momentary lapse, but a decision for which you alone were, and are, responsible. 

I note that you are now aged 58 and that no previous convictions have been tendered in respect of you. You have driven for some 27 years without a blemish on your driving record. I also appreciate that you have not driven for some years now, having been yourself affected by this incident. I have listened carefully to what has been said so powerfully on your behalf by your counsel today. You have expressed clear remorse for your actions, and indeed for the trauma and loss suffered by Mrs Mackell’s family, which suffering of course continues and will continue. You yourself have two adult daughters and a granddaughter and have suffered from significant ill-health. You enjoy the support of a protective family and are assessed as a low risk of further offending behaviour. A positive character reference has also been tendered on your behalf this morning. 

I have given the most serious consideration to alternatives to custody in your case, but have come to the view that, given the gravity of the offence for which I require to sentence you, there is no alternative to a custodial disposal. In fixing the tariff to be imposed, I take into account your genuine remorse, your personal circumstances and your previous good character as I have already mentioned. 

The sentence to be passed today is accordingly one of 2 years (24 months) imprisonment. But for the timing of the plea and the background to that, that period would have been one of 30 months. I shall also disqualify you from driving for a period of 5 years, discounted from 6 years, and your licence will be endorsed. Should you choose to reapply for a licence in future, you will require to sit an extended driving test."