Five years for driver who left best friend to die

Stefan Sakatiuk died when the car in which he was a passenger struck a tree. Picture: contributed
Stefan Sakatiuk died when the car in which he was a passenger struck a tree. Picture: contributed
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A DISQUALIFIED driver who killed his best friend after his speeding car hit a tree on New Year’s Day has been jailed for five years.

The speedometer in the 1.9 litre turbo Vauxhall Signum driven by Richard Whiteford, 39, was found “frozen” at about 78 mph following the fatality
on a 30mph limit stretch of road.

Stefan Sakatiuk, 34, who had been the front seat passenger in the car, was killed in the crash.

A judge told Whiteford, 39, at the High Court in Edinburgh: “You have pled guilty to causing the death of your friend
Stefan Sakatiuk by driving dangerously in Fauldhouse on January 1 this year.”

Lord Uist said: “After the collision, you made off and left him in the car. You told a witness you were going to phone an ambulance but did not do so.”

The judge pointed out that Whiteford, formerly of Park View, Fauldhouse, in West Lothian, had four previous convictions for driving while disqualified and seven for driving without insurance.

The judge said: “Those convictions show your reckless
attitude to road safety.”

Lord Uist banned Whiteford, who was previously jailed for drugs offences, from driving for ten years and until he passes an extended test.

Unemployed Whiteford, who shared a house with the victim, admitted causing his death by driving dangerously and at excessive speed on the B7015 Sheephousehill Road, Fauldhouse, on January 1. He also pled guilty to driving while disqualified and without insurance.

He had been freed under two bail orders at Livingston Sheriff Court the previous month.

The court heard that at the time of the fatality he was serving a three-year motoring ban imposed a year before.

Advocate depute Peter McCormack said Whiteford and his friend had travelled to the Brucefield Carvery at Livingston and bought a platter of food to take away before heading back towards Fauldhouse, turning on to the B7015.

A witness, who was turning right in his vehicle, saw the Signum spinning around on the road before coming to a halt facing east, the direction from which it had travelled.

“As he ran towards the vehicle he saw the accused exit the driver’s seat and then walk round the front of the car to the passenger side,” said Mr McCormack.

Whiteford looked in and then started to run towards the witness and said he was going to phone an ambulance. “The
accused did not, however, phone an ambulance at that time,” said the prosecutor.

Emergency services were called and firefighters removed the front and rear pillars to take off both front and rear doors as one unit. Paramedics made several attempts to resuscitate Mr Sakatiuk.

Defence solicitor advocate Ian Bryce said Whiteford wished to express his regret and remorse for what occurred and said the two men were “close friends for a long time”.