Edinburgh lorry driver walks free over fatal lay-by smash

Frank Simpson had 32 seconds to react. File picture
Frank Simpson had 32 seconds to react. File picture
Have your say

A LORRY driver from the Capital who killed another motorist by drifting off the A9 and smashing in to his parked car in a lay-by has been allowed to walk free from court.

John Trimble was sitting in his car when Frank Simpson’s 18-ton lorry veered off the road at 50 miles per hour and crashed into the rear of his Vauxhall Corsa. Simpson – who would have seen the parked car for 32 seconds before the impact – failed to brake at all until two seconds after ramming into Mr Trimble’s vehicle.

Yesterday at Perth Sheriff Court, Sheriff William Wood said the driving did not amount to “dangerous” and was in the mid-range of careless driving.

Sheriff Wood said: “It’s certainly nowhere near dangerous driving, yet it’s not simply momentary inattention, because there was 32 seconds where he should have seen the vehicle.

“These are serious matters. You caused the death of a man who was in the prime of his family life. This was a man with very close relationships to his three daughters and son, and a wife and grandchildren.

“You have denied all of those generations a future with John Trimble. You will need to live with that. It will not be an easy thing for you to deal with.”

Simpson, 35, was ordered to carry out 300 hours’ unpaid work as an alternative to custody and placed on a six-month curfew between 7pm and 7am each day. He was banned from driving for 30 months and ordered to re-sit the extended driving test.

Simpson, from Sleigh Gardens, was driving a refrigerated HGV for DHL and heading to the Vue Cinema in Inverness when the accident happened on November 4, 2014.

Fiscal depute Sue Ruta told the court: “The accused was driving northbound at just under 50 miles per hour. A witness observed the accused’s lorry start to drift slowly to the left towards the entrance of the lay-by.

“That witness had a clear view of the lorry and could see the car parked in the lay-by. He thought the lorry was going to hit the car because it did not slow down and the brake lights did not come on.

“He saw the accused’s lorry plough into the back of the car, propelling it into the air. He saw it turn over before coming to rest on its roof.”

Ms Ruta said the lorry’s tacograph showed it had gradually slowed down before the impact, but had only had the brakes applied two seconds after the vehicles collided.

“There were no mechanical defects,” she said. “The driver would have had a clear view of the lay-by for 32 seconds before impact. There is no evidence of the driver reacting to the vehicle leaving the carriageway or the imminent collision.

“He has reacted after the collision by applying the brakes and bringing the vehicle to a controlled stop.”

Simpson admitted causing the death by careless driving and the court was told that he offered no explanation for his loss of control.

His solicitor Gary Foulis said: “He is truly and deeply remorseful for what’s happened here.”