Robbie Gemmell: Mum of Joshua Stewart killed in horror East Lothian crash blasts driver's latest sentence

Devastated mother condemns ‘ridiculous’ sentencing of ‘menace’ who caused son’s death
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A devastated mother who lost her son in a horror car smash has called the latest motoring sentence handed down to the man who caused her son’s death a “slap in the face”.

Susan Stewart lost her son Joshua when driver Robbie Gemmell lost control of a vehicle and crashed into a brick wall near the hamlet of Tyninghame in East Lothian.

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Gemmell, who was just 16 at the time, caused the deaths of school pals Joshua, 16, David Armstrong, 15, and car owner Jenna Barbour, 18, when the vehicle careered into the wall in 2013.

Susan Stewart lost her son Joshua in the crash - he would be 25 nowSusan Stewart lost her son Joshua in the crash - he would be 25 now
Susan Stewart lost her son Joshua in the crash - he would be 25 now

The teenager initially denied being behind the wheel and attempted to blame Jenna for the fatalities but eventually broke down and confessed to his father as he lay in hospital recovering from his injuries.

Gemmell, from Dunbar, East Lothian, was handed a four year driving ban and an unpaid work order after pleading guilty to casing the deaths of the three teens by driving without due care and attention.

Now aged 25, Gemmell was back in the dock at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month but escaped a road ban despite pleading guilty to careless driving when he smashed into a roundabout.

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Susan has condemned the latest court sentence as “ridiculous” and branded Gemmell “a menace” who should not be allowed on the roads. Speaking to the Daily Record, Susan said: “When Robbie got his licence back, one of his relatives said on Facebook he’d learned his lesson and people should leave him alone.

Robbie Gemmell, whose face has been pixelated for legal reasons, outside Edinburgh Sheriff CourtRobbie Gemmell, whose face has been pixelated for legal reasons, outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court
Robbie Gemmell, whose face has been pixelated for legal reasons, outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court

“But he hasn’t learned anything. He’s still crashing cars.”

Gemmell appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in December 2022 after colliding with the roundabout just three miles from the spot where his three pals lost their lives. He admitted driving without due care and attention at excessive speed and losing control of the vehicle which eventually overturned at Thistly Cross Roundabout, near Dunbar, on April 16, 2021.

Sheriff Wendy Sheehan placed eight penalty points on his licence and fined him £640.

Susan said: “He should’ve been banned from driving. After the deaths of three people, he should’ve got a lifetime ban. He’s either going to kill another driver, someone else in his car, or himself. The guy is a menace on the road.”

David Armstrong, 15, and car owner Jenna Barbour, 18, were also killed in the crashDavid Armstrong, 15, and car owner Jenna Barbour, 18, were also killed in the crash
David Armstrong, 15, and car owner Jenna Barbour, 18, were also killed in the crash

‘A slap in the face’

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The 58-year-old said: “Robbie has never given a statement about what happened. He’s never apologised to the families. My son made the decision to get in the car that night and it had consequences. What consequences has Robbie paid? Absolutely nothing. It’s a slap in the face.”

Susan struggled to continue working as a book-keeper following his death, and made the decision to leave the UK and start up a new life in Turkey. She said: “Josh was an only child, an only grandchild, an only nephew. He was our life and when he died, I had nothing left.

“I was no longer working to put him through university or help him onto the property ladder. I lost a sense of purpose. My mother died two years after the crash and I think that was the cause - because she was heartbroken.

“My sister struggled to work because of panic attacks. Moving to Turkey seven years ago with my sister was a clean break. We both had PTSD, basically, and needed to get away although you can’t escape it. You think about it every day.

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“I was fortunate to be able to move away from Dunbar so I’m not surrounded constantly by bad memories.”

Following her son’s death Susan set up the Josh James Stewart Memorial Trophy in memory of her son, a keen rugby player, and the silver cup is awarded annually to a youth player who shows commitment and dedication.

She said: “Josh’s aim was to join the police when he was 21. He’d be 25 now. I see his friends posting on social media about getting engaged or having babies. You feel happy for them, but gutted too because you’ve missed out. You develop coping mechanisms and try to get on with life in Josh’s memory.”