American woman who killed North Berwick pensioner after driving on wrong side of road spared jail sentence

An American woman who killed a pensioner after driving on the wrong side of the road has been spared a jail sentence.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 1:08 pm

Caroline Bourgois Emmet – the granddaughter of composer Irving Berlin – emerged on to a main road from an estate in East Lothian and drove for more than half a kilometre on the opposing carriageway before a fatal collision with another car.

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American drove on wrong side of the road for half a kilometre before fatal East Lothian crash

Mrs Henderson, 83, of North Berwick, died two days later in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after she suffered multiple pelvis and limb fractures and internal bleeding.

Her husband William, who was driving, and another passenger in his vehicle, Christine Fraser, were also seriously injured.

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Tragedy

A judge yesterday deferred sentence on Emmet until November 2020 after she agreed to carry out 500 hours’ unpaid work with two charities in France, where she lives.

Lord Glennie told Emmet: “You have been convicted by the jury of causing death by dangerous driving. Your victim was in her 80s and possibly quite frail, but that in no way diminishes the sense of loss felt by those close to her.

“The statements I have seen from her son and her daughter confirm that the loss of a loved one, whatever age and state of health, is always a tragedy for family and friends.”

Lord Glennie banned Emmet, 56, from driving for three years and ordered she resit a test.

The judge said he accepted that Emmet’s offending did not feature aggravating issues such as drink or drug driving, driving too fast or using a mobile phone.

Lord Glennie said the tragedy in Emmet’s case was that she drove on the wrong side of the road approaching a blind corner with another vehicle coming the other way unseen.

He said Emmet’s previous driving record was exemplary and added: “You have shown remorse which I accept is genuine.”

The judge said he also took account that Emmet provides care for her 14-year-old son who has suffered medical problems from a young age.

He told her that if she did unpaid work with two charities in France it would be “worthwhile and important”.

Emmet, an American citizen who is resident in Paris, was heading for Edinburgh Airport with two other women and two children in a hire car when the crash occurred.

She had earlier denied causing the death of Mrs Henderson by driving dangerously on the opposing side of the carriageway and into the path of the oncoming vehicle, but was convicted of the offence.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that she had never driven on the left hand side of the road prior to the trip to Scotland for a friend’s birthday but had driven extensively abroad.