Driver guilty of careless driving

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A delivery driver for a wholesale food company was found guilty of careless driving when he appeared at Oban Sheriff Court last week.

Damian Michael McAuley of 10e Miller Road, Oban, denied dangerous driving on the Isle of Mull which left another driver with a broken wrist and a written-off car.

Sheriff Patrick Hughes told the 29-year-old at the end of his trial that while he did not find him guilty of dangerous driving, his driving ‘had fallen below the standard expected’ and found McAuley guilty of careless driving, imposing a fine of £700, with a victim surcharge of £40 and added nine points to his licence.

‘You are now one endorsement away from losing your licence,’ the sheriff warned.

The incident happened on September 20 last year on the A849 near to Leob Cottage, Pennyghael, and McAuley was charged with driving at excessive speed for the road conditions and crossing into the opposing carriageway and colliding with an on coming car.

His defence agent Kevin McGinness questioned how McAuley could cross into the opposing carriageway as this was a single-track road.

The driver of the other car, a community nurse based on the island was on her way home from Craignure travelling towards Fionnphort and saw the van coming towards her.

‘I slowed down and pulled in at a passing place,’ she said. ‘I had almost stopped and then the van just came towards me, it wasn’t going to stop.’

The force of the impact between the two vehicles pushed them 100 yards, each off the road and onto the verge.

She said McAuley had said to her: ‘My brakes aren’t working very well’ and also ‘I was in a hurry for the ferry’.

McAuley denied this.  He told the court that he had seen the other car pull into the passing space and then start to come out of it when he was ‘within three seconds’ of the vehicle.

He told the court he had said ‘My brakes aren’t that good’ meaning that he could never have stopped in the seconds between her car pulling out and the impact.

And he added that his delivery run to Iona and back had been delayed by the Iona ferry being suspended for three hours and he had already telephoned his employer to make arrangements to stay on the island.

‘There was no hurry, it is just not true,’ he said, adding that he had slowed down when he saw the oncoming car and was doing 15 mph when the car pulled part way out of the passing place.

But procurator fiscal James Dunbar pointed to one of the crash-scene photographs shown to the court and said: ‘Are you telling me that amount of damage to a Ford Fiesta was done at 15mph?’

McAuley’s defence agent said that type of question could only be answered with expert advice.  He also argued that there was no case to answer as McAuley had not been cautioned before being questioned by the police officer interviewing him; the sheriff did not uphold this argument.

‘I accept the evidence of the Crown witnesses and I am satisfied that you caused this accident,’ the sheriff said to McAuley, but he added: ‘I am conscious of the demands and pressures drivers like yourself are subject to.’