HMA v Alin Jar

At the High Court in Glasgow today, 6 June 2018, Lord Woolman sentenced Alin Jar to six years’ imprisonment after the accused was found guilty of causing the death of Jamesina Stewart by dangerous driving. He was also disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of eight years.

On sentencing, Lord Woolman made the following statement in court:

“On Saturday 5 March 2016, Amanda Todd was driving her family south on the A90 near Ellon. Her husband Malcolm sat in the front passenger seat. Their three-year-old son and six-year-old daughter were behind them. Amanda Todd’s mother, Mrs Jamesina Stewart, sat in the middle of the back seat singing along with her two grandchildren.

“Suddenly your car came straight towards their car, travelling in the opposite direction on the wrong side of the carriageway. Amanda Todd had no opportunity to take avoiding action. There was a head-on collision.

“Mrs Stewart died at the scene. Amanda Todd suffered very serious injuries. Mercifully, Malcom Todd and the children escaped with minor injuries.

That day you were driving north to drop off a car as part of your job with a car rental company. You have no memory of the period from leaving Aberdeen at the Bridge of Don until immediately after the collision.

“Although you accept responsibility for causing the collision, you deny dangerous driving. Having heard the evidence, however, the jury concluded that you were responsible for causing death by dangerous driving.

“One eye-witness, Sharon Addison, saw your car going too fast around the roundabout close to Ellon Academy. As she followed in her car, she noticed that your driving was erratic and that you were trying to overtake the whole time. She described your driving as ‘ridiculous’.

“Peter Farrell, who was in the car in front of the Todd’s, said that ‘some nutcase pulled out’ into the wrong carriageway with no chance of safely overtaking the vehicles in front of him. Mr Farrell managed to take avoiding action.

“Ian and Phyllis Thompson, who were in the car behind the Todds, could see no explanation for your car being on the wrong side of the road.

“The police experts attributed the collision to your error. There were no problems associated with the weather, the road conditions, or the state of the vehicles.

“I conclude that you presented a substantial degree of danger to other road users that day. This was very bad driving. You made inappropriate attempts to overtake.

“Mrs Stewart’s untimely death at the age of 57 has had a devastating effect on her family. Their eloquent victim impact statements all speak of her life-giving and loving personality.

“Her mother, Mrs Isabella Burns, now aged 77, speaks of an ‘irreplaceable void’ in her life. Mrs Stewart’s brother Robert required to take 10 weeks off work and obtain counselling for the trauma he suffered. Her son John says that his mother cared and loved him and his family with all her heart. Her daughter Amanda Todd says that she was not just ‘mum’, but her confidante and best friend. She adds: ‘I do not know how to articulate the loss’.

“Amanda Todd’s legs were crushed in the collision. In consequence, she sustained multiple fractures to her leg and pelvis. She was admitted to the High Dependency Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and remained in hospital for several weeks.

“In total she required four operations, which included the insertion of metal rods into her leg and an extensive skin graft. She was off work for six months. She has been left with a noticeable limp and very significant scarring.

“I take into account the whole terms of the criminal justice report and everything said on your behalf. In particular, I accept (i) that you are deeply ashamed of your conduct and show genuine remorse; (ii) that you present a low risk of re-offending; and (iii) that you also suffered serious injuries in the collision.

“I must also, however, have regard to the fact that you have two prior convictions for speeding offences in 2014. You were fined on each occasion and received a total of eight penalty points.

“Having regard to the whole circumstances, I am satisfied that only a custodial sentence is merited.

“In selecting the appropriate length, I do not attempt to measure the value of the life which has been lost. No sentence can cure the anguish of those whose own lives have been dislocated as a result.

“Having regard to your culpability and taking into account the various aggravating and mitigating factors, I impose a sentence of six years’ imprisonment, backdated to run from 25 April 2018.

“You will be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of eight years, with effect from today’s date and until you pass the extended driving test. Your licence will be endorsed.”

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