Edinburgh crime: Teenager who left biker paralysed after crash on A71 in West Lothian is fined £600
Biker Gordon Alexander suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury
A father-of-two from West Lothian has spoken of his devastation after being left paralysed for life by a teenage driver.
Biker Gordon Alexander, 54, suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury in April last year after he was hit by a car being driven by 17-year-old Jacob Varey. This week, Varey escaped with a £600 fine and six penalty points when he admitted a charge of driving without due care and attention at Livingston Sheriff Court.
Mr Alexander, from Addiewell, was driving his Yamaha motorcycle along the A71 in West Lothian when he was struck by Varey, who was driving his mother’s Volkswagen Golf, having passed his drive test only a month earlier.
Speaking after sentencing, Mr Alexander said: “This incident totally devastated me and my family and will do so for the rest of our lives. When in hospital all I could think about was how much of a burden I would be to my family and wondered if the world would be a better place without me being in it.
“Those thoughts and feelings made me feel terrible and even now I am overwhelmed when thinking about my future.”
Having been a biker for more than 35 years, he added: “Bikes are not just a mode of transport to me, they are a way of life. The freedom, the camaraderie... If you're not a biker, you'll never understand what grips you so much. There needs to be recognition from the justice system that Mr Varey has done wrong as you can’t just get away with something without fully understanding the repercussions of one’s own actions. But I don't feel any hatred towards him.
“If nothing else, I hope this has been a massive educational and life-changing experience for him to make him a better driver and a better person. And for the wider public, I hope it reminds people that vehicles are dangerous in the wrong hands and complacency can destroy lives.”
Varey, who is now 18, was convicted under Section 3 of the Road Traffic (Scotland) Act. It was explained to the court that that the charge of “causing serious injury by careless driving” – known as Section 2C of the same Act – was not introduced until nearly three months after this incident happened.
This meant the teenager could only be prosecuted and sentenced on the nature of his driving – and not the result of his driving.
Varey’s defence agent said he took full responsibility for his actions, adding: “the serious consequences of the accident are not lost on him.”
Sheriff Craig Findlater sentenced Varey to six points on his licence and fined him £600, reduced from nine points and £900 due to his early plea. The court heard Varey would keep his licence but, in view of the penalty points applied, the DVLA was likely to reclassify him to the level of a learner driver.
Passing sentence, Sheriff Findlater told him: “This is a really awful crash – Mr Alexander is an entirely innocent victim of your carelessness. Your age and the sentencing guidelines means rehabilitation is to be focused on, and the criminal charge in question requires me to consider the nature of your driving and not the effects of it.”