HMA v Martin McGuire

At the High Court in Edinburgh today, Friday 28 June 2019, Lady Scott sentenced Martin McGuire to five years imprisonment after the accused pled guilty to causing the death of a 12 year old girl by dangerous driving.

On sentencing, Lady Scott made the following statement in court:

"You have pleaded guilty in charge 1 to causing the death of a 12 year old girl by dangerous driving; in charge 2 to driving whilst without a valid licence and in charge 3 driving without insurance in contravention of s1, s87(1) and s143(1) and (2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

On the 12th February this year at about 4pm AM got off the bus with her friend on the road known as the Loaning in Motherwell. The girls wanted to go to the local shop directly opposite the bus stop. Here the road was relatively straight.

It was daylight and dry. Visibility was excellent. After waiting for traffic to clear, the girls began to cross the road. About halfway across while her friend stopped, AM continued to run across.

You were driving southbound at speed and you struck her whereby she was projected into a parked car. She sustained very severe and extensive injuries which resulted in her death. By cruel coincidence your front seat passenger was the victim's father.

There was nothing obscuring your view from within the vehicle and no reason for you not to observe her. The dangerousness of your driving whereby you struck and killed her, was your driving at excessive speed in the circumstances.

This road has a 30mph speed limit and this area had an advisory "20's plenty" speed recommendation by means of large circular white signs. Investigators calculated you were travelling at an average speed of 51 miles per hours while braking.

The CCTV footage shows this was a residential area and a recognised bus route It was obvious there were liable to be people disembarking from the bus or crossing the road. Moreover I have been told by your advocate this morning that you were deliberately driving at excessive speed 'showing off' the car for some distance before reaching this road.

AM was 12 years old. She was a child with her whole life ahead of her. She had a bright future. By all accounts she loved her life and she was well loved by her close and extended family, especially her mum, her brothers and sisters and her grandparents and her father. All have been left devastated and will be forever bereft.

I can only base my sentence on the following factors.

Firstly on an assessment of how dangerous or bad your driving was. Driving with excessive speed is recognised in the sentencing guidelines at level 3 of seriousness. I have decided this falls to be regarded at the higher end of level 3 having regard to the circumstances I have described.

I have to have regard in addition to any aggravating factors. Here your criminal record of driving offences constitutes very significant aggravation. At the time of this offence you had an expired provisional licence and no insurance to drive.

Your previous road traffic convictions include two convictions in 1999 for drink driving, which indicates bad driving; two offences of driving whilst disqualified and two offences of driving without insurance, which indicates a reckless disregard for others. You also have generally offended over a long period but at a relatively low level.

Finally I have to have to take into account any factors in mitigation of your conduct. In this regard I have considered all that has been said by your solicitor advocate on your behalf and in particular the fact you have a stable and close family life and steady employment ; on the affect imprisonment will have on your children; the background report which says you have genuine remorse; your distress and depression which has followed this event and finally the fact you pleaded guilty at an early stage.

Balancing all of these factors I sentence you as follows.

On charge 1, to 5 years imprisonment reduced from 7 and a half years to reflect your early plea.

And I disqualify you from driving or applying for a driving licence for a period of 8 years and 6months. This disqualification includes a mandatory extension period of 2 years and 6 months in terms of s35C of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. You will also be required to pass the extended test of driving competence before you can drive again.

On charges 2 and 3 you are admonished and your licence endorsed."