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HMA v Andrew Montgomery

 

Jul 6, 2021

At the High Court at Glasgow yesterday Lady Stacey sentenced Andrew Montgomery to imprisonment for 7 years and 6 months after the offender pled guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

 

On sentencing, Lady Stacey made the following remarks in Court: “When Euan McKay died in a road traffic accident in August 2018 he was a well-loved son, husband, father and grandfather. Nothing that can be said by me or anyone else in this court case can take away the grief and sorrow felt by his family and his friends. I cannot put a value on a man’s life and nothing that I say should be taken as attempting to do that.

You drove your car that day in a dangerous way which led to Mr McKay’s death, to severe injury to his son Patrick and to injuries to 2 other road users. A number of drivers had to take evasive action because your dangerous driving was over a period where several cars were affected. You drove very close to the car in front of you, then moved out into the oncoming traffic lane. A driver coming the other way had to drive off the road. You overtook a car while crossing a narrow bridge. You came towards a bus, driving on the wrong side of the road, forcing the bus driver to brake sharply. You drove very fast, causing your car to bounce on the uneven road. You then came to a set of road signs warning you to reduce speed but you continued driving fast, narrowly missing another car. You then collided with a van and then you collided with the van driven by Euan McKay. The next car coming behind it saw that the collisions had happened and in an effort to avoid a further collision the driver braked sharply and ended up in the ditch. The police report drawn up after the accident stated that you failed to negotiate a left hand bend, due to driver impairment and excessive speed.

You know, as we all do, that driving dangerously can have tragic consequences. In this case it certainly did. Mr McKay left his mother, his wife and his 5 children. All of them feel his loss keenly. Mrs Mackay was left to cope with her own loss and to help the rest of the family including her daughter who lives with disabilities. She had to try to cope with her grief and at the same time take over as her daughter’s carer and cope with all the forms and official matters that had to be attended to. She had to cope with the loss of her husband’s income.

Her son Patrick had to be airlifted from Skye to Glasgow and Mrs McKay had to stay in Skye to look after her daughter so other members of the family had to go to hospital in Glasgow to be with Patrick. He has had to suffer grief in respect to his father’s death and he also has physical health consequence as a result to the injuries he sustained. He suffered trauma and bleeding in the brain, as well as significant chest injuries and an injury to his leg. He has been left with limitation of movement in his arm and problems with his knee, as well as some cognitive difficulties and a lack of confidence in himself due to the accident. He was in hospital for over a month and after that he was in a rehabilitation unit for weeks. In the three years since the accident the family have all had to cope without the care and comfort they would have obtained from Mr McKay’s involvement in their lives. And of course they have to do the best they can to continue in future.

Other road users had to take evasive action, driving off the road to avoid you. They were alarmed and shaken by that experience. Mr Kirk and Mr Stuart were in a van which, despite the driver’s best efforts, was in collision with you. Mr Kirk injured his neck and his back. Mr Stuart had bruising and cuts on the body and a laceration to his head. Both men were taken to hospital.

Blood samples were taken from you and analysis was carried out. That showed alcohol and drugs in your blood. The level of alcohol was calculated as at the time of the accident at 84 milligrams per 100 millilitres which is over the limit, which is 50 per 100 millilitres. The drugs were a metabolite of cocaine, that is a substance that is present only if cocaine has bene ingested. The amount found was sufficient to impair your ability to drive, and being mixed with alcohol would cause further impairment. Other drugs found were alprazolam, which can cause reduced alertness and comes with a warning that it may make you sleepy and should that effect happen you should not drive nor use machinery. It also warns not to take alcohol. Diazepam, also found, comes with the same warning. The next drug was diclazepam, which may have similar said effects. Thus we know from the scientific evidence that you took drink and drugs at some time before you drove and that these substances were still in your blood stream when the accident happened.

There were several people at the scene of the accident who spoke about you being odd in your presentation and keen to get away. You were however still there when the police came. You sustained slight injuries which had to be investigated at hospital. I have decided that I cannot deduce anything from people‘s description of you.

As for your personal circumstances I have listened carefully to all that counsel has said. I have also read the Criminal Justice Social Work Report. I understand that you and your wife were having difficulties and that she had told you that she wanted to separate from you. You were up most of the night trying to have a discussion. As we can tell from the forensic report you took alcohol and drugs. You then left to drive to work. You were not fit to do so.

Your wife and your mother have written to me. Your wife accepts that you were distressed by the events of the evening. She cannot be sure how much you had to drink; but I can rely on the forensic testing. Your wife says that you had been under a strain and in her opinion were behaving oddly. She speaks about you having suffered seizures since the accident and she wonders if they were present at the date of the accident and caused you to seem unresponsive to others who attended immediately afterwards. Your wife speaks movingly of your good qualities as a father and tells me how much your 3 young daughters miss you.

I also have a letter from a doctor which states that you had a neurological appointment in January 2021. There is nothing before me to suggest that the accident was caused by a seizure and I want to make that clear.

Your mother explains that you worked hard as young person to get qualified as a skipper of a fishing boat and that you went to sea with your father. You got more qualifications as you got older. However she knew that you had got into abusing drink and drugs. She describes your mental health deteriorating after your own father and mother split up. She describes seizures after the accident. Your mother has tried since the accident to get help for you in a clinic but that did not succeed.

I am grateful to your wife and to your mother for taking the time to write to me. I am grateful also to two others who have written, Mr MacLeod who says that you risked your own life to save him and his crew from a sinking ship in 2010 and Mr McDonnell of the fish producers association who commends you as honest and dedicated to the industry.

Today your counsel has stated that you are genuinely remorseful for what you did. He has submitted that you were very distressed by your marriage breaking up. He states that you accept that is not an excuse.

The fact of the matter is that you drove in a shocking manner after taking drink and drugs and the consequences are tragic. I have considered the Guidelines in England and Wales as cross check for sentencing. Your driving when taken along with your drinking and taking drugs puts this into the highest category. You have a previous analogous conviction which is an aggravation. I am prepared to accept from counsel that you do feel remorse for what you have done. I take into account your children and the effect your imprisonment is bound to have on them.

I have to impose a sentence of imprisonment on you to mark the serious nature of what you have done, to punish you, and to deter others from driving in such a way. You pled guilty after a trial was fixed but before the date of the trial and so I will grant a discount as you have avoided the need for a trial. On charge 1 the period of imprisonment which I will impose is 7 years and 6 months reduced from 9 years, which is a reduction of just over one sixth. 3 months is in respect of your being on bail at the time. I will disqualify you from driving or obtaining a driving licence for a period of 11 years and 3 months, which is a disqualification of 7 years and 6 months reduced by one sixth from 9 years, but to which I have to add, under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 section 35C one half of the period of the custodial sentence bringing it to 11 years and 3 months. You will be required to sit the extended driving test before obtaining a licence in future.

On charge 2 I will impose a sentence of 20 months reduced form 24 and I will disqualify you for 30 months. This sentence will be concurrent with that of charge 1.

The period of imprisonment will be backdated to 21 May 2021.

On charge 5 I will admonish you.”

5 July 2021