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A furious judge has blasted the driver who killed a Kilninver woman after he blamed social workers for failing to attend an appointment with them.
Lord Beckett warned Christopher Taylor that if he missed another meeting he would be remanded in custody.
He was originally charged with causing the ‘catastrophic’ crash at a notorious Argyll accident blackspot by driving dangerously, but was found guilty by a jury of the less serious offence of causing death by careless driving.
The jury heard evidence that Taylor’s car ploughed head-on into Yvonne Shann’s car after he tried to overtake another vehicle.
The 56-year-old grandmother had to be cut free from her Citroen and died just over a week later in hospital.
The tragedy happened on the rural A816 Lochgilphead to Oban road on December 30, 2015. Taylor had his wife and a young child in his Peugeot at the time.
The High Court in Glasgow heard how the crash happened at night on the ‘twisty and windy’ road.
Jurors heard that a driver in front of Taylor ‘knew something was going to happen’ when he went to overtake him. The motorist feared the worst and ‘held his steering wheel a lot tighter’ as Taylor smashed into Mrs Shann’s car.
The court was told the crash happened in a ‘split second’ and that ‘the noise was terrible’.
It was also told that Mrs Shann could have done ‘nothing’ to avoid being hit. The mother-of-three died on January 11, 2016, at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.
Taylor – who lived in Ardrishaig at the time – accepted being responsible for the accident.
Dale Hughes, defending, claimed Taylor had not received mail about his appointment because he had been fitting flooring at his partner’s home. He returned to his home in Rothesay five days later to find two letters from his social worker, one offering him a meeting and the second saying he had missed the appointment.
Mr Hughes told the High Court in Livingston: ‘He phoned his agents in some panic and they advised him to phone the social work office. The social worker said (a new meeting) wouldn’t be possible due to her working elsewhere and having holidays, even though there was two weeks left.’
Lord Beckett interrupted him to tell Taylor: ‘I don’t think you can blame social work for this. They offered an appointment and you failed to keep it.
‘It reflects some credit on you that took immediate steps to try to remedy the situation.’
He went on: ‘The court is left with a situation where there’s no report. The easiest way to get a report would be to remand you in custody. I’m prepared not to do that if concrete arrangements can be made today to meet the social worker.’
Lord Beckett adjourned the case until March 7 at the High Court in Glasgow for a criminal justice social work report and restriction of liberty order assessment previously called for. He said the interim disqualification order would continue until then.
He warned Taylor: ‘Can I make it clear I expect an appointment to be made this morning and it’s a condition of your bail that you attend with the social worker when they tell you to?
‘If anything out of the ordinary happens which gets in the way of that you have to be in touch, preferably with the social worker direct or through your lawyer.
‘You know who the social worker is so make sure you meet with her when you’re supposed to meet with her.
‘If I’m faced with this situation in a month’s time the court has a certain way of getting this report and that is to remand you in custody.’
In her closing speech to the jury, prosecutor Jane Farquharson said what happened had been a ‘catastrophic error’ on Taylor’s part.
She added he had not been a ‘careful and competent’ motorist that night.