HMA v Eric Finlayson

At the High Court in Edinburgh today (28 November 2017) Lord Boyd of Duncansby sentenced Eric Finlayson to 3 years and 6 months imprisonment and disqualified him from driving for 7 years after the accused pled guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. On sentencing Lord Boyd made the following statement in court:

You have pleaded guilty to causing the death of David Gaspar by dangerous driving on 1 January 2016. Mr Gaspar was a 20 year old man who had come to Scotland initially to visit family but who stayed on, in the words of his family, to try and have a better life. On 1 January when many people would be on holiday he was working delivering takeaway meals with his 13 year old nephew.

This was a young man who had his life ahead of him and who lost that life as a result of your dangerous driving. Nothing I can do or say and no sentence I can pass can compensate for his loss.

Apart from causing the death of David Gaspar his nephew Daniel Bada was injured.

The charge narrates that at the time of the impact you were travelling at excessive speeds of up to 65 miles an hour. It is agreed that when you passed the Council premises in Murrayburn Road you were travelling at a speed of not less than 65 miles per hour. The speed limit is 30 miles per hour. It is clear that the accident would not have occurred had you been travelling within the speed limit.

In determining sentence I have regard to the Sentencing Guidelines from the Sentencing Council of England and Wales but I am not obliged to follow them. I take into account the fact that there are no other aggravating features such as consumption of alcohol or using a mobile phone. Indeed you appear not to be able to explain how or why you came to travelling at such an excessive speed. But I do not accept that you were unaware of your speed which must have been as obvious to you as it was to bystanders.

You have a record which includes, a long time in the past, a number of custodial sentences including a conviction in the High Court. However you have never been convicted of any road traffic offence and I take that into account. I also take into account your expressions of remorse which I consider to be genuine. I accept that you have suffered some symptoms of PTSD following these events.

I shall disqualify you from driving for a period of 7 years from today’s date and order that before you can obtain or hold a driving licence you must sit the extended driving test.

While I accept that there were no other aggravating features it appears to me that you were driving along Murrayburn Road at speeds grossly in excess of the speed limit. The danger that you caused must have been clear and obvious to you.  Balancing that against the other factors had you been convicted after trial I would have sentenced you to 4 years 6 months in prison. In view of the plea I shall discount that to one of 3 years 6 months from today’s date.