SENTENCING STATEMENTS

 

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HMA v Francis Creedican

 

Jul 25, 2020

At the High Court in Glasgow today (24 July 2020) Lord Matthews imposed a Community Payback Order of 225 hours of unpaid work in the community on Francis Creedican after the accused pleaded guilty to causing death by driving without due care and attention. In addition the accused was disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of 3 years and 9 months.


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

“You have pleaded guilty to causing the death of Christina Young, a much loved mother and grandmother. She was 92 but was active and looking forward to many more years with her family, as were they. She had only recently been told that she had breast cancer but a few weeks later came the news that it was treatable with tablets so it is particularly tragic that her life was prematurely taken from her in this fashion. The victim statements from her daughters, one in Edinburgh and one in Australia are eloquent testament to the loss they have suffered and will continue to suffer. Her daughter in Edinburgh had to undergo the heartbreaking experience of being with her when she died. Her other daughter in Australia was back in Scotland for a visit a matter of weeks before her death, little knowing that that would be the last time she would see her alive. The feeling of helplessness when she got the news must have been palpable but I hope that in time she will be able to console herself with the fact that she did come back to see her mother and no doubt the memories of that will last forever

I do not imagine that any sentence I can pass will in any way help the family to gain any sort of closure. As Mr Smith has fairly and properly said, nothing he can say and nothing I can do is meant to be a reflection of what Mrs Young’s life was worth. Reading their dignified statements, my impression is that they would not be concerned with revenge but both you and they are entitled to expect that the punishment will be in accordance with the law and will fit the crime.

The Crown has accepted that that crime is causing death by driving without due care and attention. It is not causing death by dangerous driving, which, despite the fact that death results from both crimes, is in a far more serious category of offending, and that affects the sentence which is to be imposed.

You are a man who has led a very useful life in the community. You obtained a degree in civil engineering and have a long history of employment. This was a momentary and tragic occurrence with no malice or evil intention involved. Your view was partially obscured by a hedge and your rear window was misted up. You should have either waited until it was clear or taken other steps to ensure that it was safe to reverse, such as by looking out of your window or using the wing mirrors and reversing camera. However, it would only have taken a matter of a very few seconds for this tragic occurrence to have taken place and the level of criminality, or culpability, despite the awful consequences of it, was very low. You called the emergency services when you realised what had happened and are plainly remorseful. You tendered a plea of guilty, sparing the family the agony of a trial.

The courts in this country are expected to have regard to, but are not bound slavishly to follow, the Sentencing Guidelines in force in England and Wales for cases of causing death by driving, the Road Traffic Act 1988 being a United Kingdom statute. In addition there have been a number of Appeal Court cases in Scotland dealing with sentences for cases of this kind. Having considered the guidelines and the authorities I am satisfied in the circumstance, despite what has happened, that an alternative to a prison sentence should be imposed in this case by way of a Community Payback Order, if you are willing to accept its conditions.

The order will require you to carry out a certain number of hours of unpaid work in the community during the next 6 months

The number of hours is 225 and would have been 300 but for the timing of your plea.

In addition you will be disqualified for holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of 3 years and 9 months. It would have been 5 years but for the timing of your plea.”