HMA v Kathryn Forman

At Aberdeen Sheriff Court on 28 August 2018, Sheriff Jack Brown sentenced Kathryn Forman to a Community Payback Order with 300 hours of unpaid work after the offender pled guilty to causing death by careless driving. She was also disqualified from driving for three years.

On sentencing, Sheriff Brown made the following statement in court:

"Kathryn Forman, you have pled guilty to driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users, essentially careless driving, which caused severe injury to the passengers in your vehicle as well as  injury to James Cruickshank and injuries to Dorothy Cruickshank which were so severe that she subsequently and tragically died from them. It is acknowledged, of course, that you too suffered severe injuries.

"Nothing which I can say or do can lessen the grief felt by Mrs Cruickshank’s husband and family and friends. One could not fail to be moved by the heartfelt content of the victim impact statements lodged which recorded the Cruickshank family’s sense of loss. Dorothy Cruickshank is someone whose loss is tangible and you know that your careless driving caused her death and you have to live with that burden of responsibility.

"You also caused serious injury to the passengers in your car and from their victim impact statements, there may be long lasting implications for them in terms of recovery.

"In considering sentence I have to have regard to a number of factors. I have considered carefully the Crown narrative and the submissions made on your behalf.

"I understand that those affected in cases such as these find it difficult to understand what might be described as the sentencing process, but there are both aggravating and mitigating factors to consider.

"It goes without saying that the most serious aggravating factors are the death of Mrs Cruickshank and the serious injuries caused to others.

"At the time of the offence, you were only 19 years of age with limited driving experience. You have no previous convictions of any kind, particularly in relation to road traffic offences.

"There is no question of you having consumed alcohol or being under the influence of any other substance which affected your diving and significantly, and I explored this with the Crown at the time the Crown narrative was given, there is no question of you having been driving at any excess speed.

"I also have to have regard to the remorse which you express and to the fact you yourself were seriously injured. I also note that this case was resolved under the section 76 procedure whereby you tendered a plea of guilty to the charge now before me. It is important to recognise that the charge is one of careless rather than dangerous driving and having regard to the Crown narrative, it would appear that what occurred on 5 April 2017 was a tragic but devastating accident not caused by a prolonged period of poor driving but by momentary inattention.  

"I have considered the terms of the full and detailed Criminal Justice Social Work report. I have considered recent authorities and considered the relevant sentencing guidelines.

"In all the circumstance I intend to impose a Community Payback Order. You will be under the supervision of the Social Work Department for a period of 12 months. You will undertake 300 hours of unpaid work in the community. As the sentence is an alternative to custody, I impose the maximum number of hours to reflect the seriousness of the offence. The work is to be completed within 12 months.

"You will also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of three years modified from 54 months. And you are ordered to re-sit the extended driving test before getting a licence in the future.

"It rests only with me to express the court’s condolences to the family of the late Mrs Cruickshank."