Teenager’s careless driving caused friends’ deaths

Police at the scene of the fatal Crash at Limetree Walk, Tyninghame. East Lothian. Pictue: Julie Bull
Police at the scene of the fatal Crash at Limetree Walk, Tyninghame. East Lothian. Pictue: Julie Bull
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A TEENAGER wept uncontrollably as a lawyer told how his careless driving caused the deaths of three school friends in a horror crash.

Robbie Gemmell, 17, had originally told police that he had been a passenger in the Peugeot 205 that crashed into a wall on a single track road near Tyninghame, East Lothian, in November 2013.

But after breaking down in hospital, he confessed to his father about his role in the tragic accident that claimed the lives of Dunbar Grammar School pupils Jenna Barbour, 18, David Armstrong, 15, and 16-year-old Joshua Stewart.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how Gemmell had blamed the crash on Jenna – who owned the car and had been set to go travelling in New Zealand – but later told his father: “Dad, I was driving the car.”

He told police how, as he was driving at around 50mph, Miss Barbour had grabbed the wheel to straighten them up but he had pulled it in the opposite direction and they suddenly struck a wall.

Gemmell waved down the emergency services in a “distressed and disorientated state” having tried everything to help the injured passengers.

Paramedics found David Armstrong had been thrown from the car and his body was found 15 metres away.

The car had spun to a rest 25 metres from its impact point on the wall while the engine had detached and was lying on a nearside verge.

Prosecuting lawyer Graeme Jessop told the court how Gemmell told police Jenna had been driving the car but when undertakers came to remove her from the car they found injuries inconsistent with the position of her body.

The court heard that in the days following the incident, Gemmell told family and friends that he had been driving the vehicle at the time of the collision.

Police arrested him on November 29 last year and he pleaded guilty yesterday to driving without due care and attention at Limetree Walk.

Deferring sentence on the teenager, Sheriff Liddle added: “I do not want to deal with this case but it is my duty.”

Gemmell – who has no previous convictions – sobbed heavily as Mr Jessop read the circumstances surrounding the case in open court.

Members of Gemmell’s family and relatives of the deceased also wept.

Defence solicitor advocate John Scott QC described the incident as an “unspeakable tragedy.”

Speaking of Gemmell, Stephen Bunyan, chairman of Dunbar Community Council, said: “He’s facing a terrible prospect and a lifetime of anguish.”

Gemmell will be sentenced on September 19.