Widow’s agony as drunk-driver killer to be freed

Gavin Fulton with wife Jill and daughters Mia and Faye.
Gavin Fulton with wife Jill and daughters Mia and Faye.
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A DISTRAUGHT widow from the Capital says she is “sickened” that the drunk driver who killed her husband is being released after less than three-and-a-half years behind bars.

Keith McCardle, 53, was jailed for five years for dangerous driving after mowing down devoted father-of-two Gavin Fulton, 43.

Picture: Jane Barlow

Picture: Jane Barlow

He was nearly double the legal drink-driving limit when he mounted the pavement and inflicted fatal injuries on the keen sportsman.

Gavin’s widow, Jill, described her agony at the news McCardle would be allowed to walk free next month.

“I am sickened by this,” she said. “I wonder how well he sleeps at night. Does he have post-traumatic stress disorder and cry inwardly?

“I am so jealous that he was the last man to see my husband alive.”

Gavin Fulton. Picture: submitted

Gavin Fulton. Picture: submitted

She added: “He was only sentenced in January 2014 and will be out next month with an eight-year driving ban.

“Has that started already while he is in prison?”

Mum Jill was told last Monday by the Crown Office that McCardle would be released on June 10.

His case comes only months after the Scottish Government claimed to have abolished automatic early release of dangerous prisoners.

Jill said: “Releasing Keith McCardle after such a short time tells us that drunk drivers who kill serve little more than a cursory sentence.

“He will be driving again when we are still trying to cope with the loss of a truly lovely person.

“Gavin was a wonderful dad and husband. Nothing can replace him. Our lives will never be the same.”

McCardle had been in an Edinburgh bar with his wife, Donna, and sister Lorna McCardle on the night Gavin died in December 2012.

After consuming four alcoholic drinks he got into his Land Rover Freelander and was spotted zigzagging and swerving on the road.

One witness described how his vehicle crossed on to the opposite carriageway before mounting the pavement and striking Gavin, who was heading to his home in Claremont Bank.

Moments after the collision, McCardle got out of his car and told a passer-by: “I killed him. I hit the guy and he’s dead.”

McCardle, of Musselburgh, pleaded guilty at a hearing in December 2013 to causing Mr Fulton’s death by dangerous driving.

Sentencing him, Lord Doherty said he was imposing a “substantial” jail sentence.

He told McCradle in court: “Your dangerous driving ended Mr Fulton’s life. It has caused inestimable damage to the lives of his family and others.

“No sentence that I can impose can undo that damage.

“Everyone knows, or should know, that the consumption of even small quantities of alcohol undermines the ability of any driver to apply his full concentration to the road.

“I am in no doubt, however, that the gravity of the offence requires that I impose a substantial prison sentence.”

Jill is now terrified she or her daughters, Mia and Faye, could bump into McCardle.

Automatic early release dictated that prisoners be released after serving half of a prison sentence under four years and two-thirds of a sentence of four years or more.

However, the scheme was abolished in February – a measure hailed by Justice 
Secretary Michael Matheson as a “huge step in the right direction”. But the changes were not retrospective, meaning they did not apply to those already in jail and allowing McCardle to walk free early.