SENTENCING STATEMENTS

 

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HMA v Jack John Bradbury

 

Dec 11, 2020

At the High Court in Glasgow today Lord Braid imposed a community payback order with a requirement to perform 300 hours of unpaid work on Jack John Bradbury after the accused pleaded guilty to causing death by driving without due care and attention. He was also disqualified from driving for 5 years.


On sentencing Lord Braid made the following statement in court:

“Jack John Bradbury, last month you stood trial on a charge of causing the death of Robert Moran McLeod by your dangerous driving on 28 November 2017, at the junction of the A80 (Cumbernauld Road) with the A752 at Chryston. After the court had heard three days of evidence from a number of eye witnesses, the Crown elected to accept your plea of guilty to the alternative charge of causing death by driving without due care and attention and without consideration to other road users. Accordingly you now fall to be sentenced for that lesser, though still serious, offence.

The circumstances which led to the fatal collision are as follows.  Mr McLeod was in his vehicle, in a line of traffic, waiting to turn right from the A80 on to the A752, which led into Chryston. That necessitated crossing the north bound carriageway of the A80. At the head of the queue, waiting in the gap in the central reservation, was a white van.  Meanwhile, you were part of a line of traffic in the nearside lane heading in the opposite direction, that is, along the north bound carriageway. The speed limit was 50 miles per hour. You pulled out to overtake the vehicles in front of you. You accept that you accelerated to a speed in excess of the speed limit. You say that you were aware of the white van in the gap in the central reservation but you did not expect it to cross the road in front of you. However, it did execute that very manoeuvre, causing you to take evasive action in an attempt to avoid colliding with it. There was some evidence that the van driver was cutting it fine, and that it moved more slowly than might have been expected. Your evasive action caused you to lose control of your vehicle, which slid towards the central reservation, colliding with the barrier, causing your vehicle to become airborne. Your vehicle first landed on the bonnet of Mr McLeod’s car, before somersaulting over the vehicle behind his, and landing further down the south bound carriageway. Remarkably, you and your passenger emerged relatively unscathed. 

Tragically, the same cannot be said of Mr McLeod. The impact of the collision caused him severe injuries of which he later died in hospital. He is survived by his loving wife, and two sons. Their victim impact statements reveal in moving terms that he was a much loved husband and father, whose death has left a massive void. No sentence that I can pass could possibly begin to address that void or to heal the pain caused.

Returning to the issue of your speed, witnesses placed this at anything from 70mph to something approaching 100mph. I also have available to me the reports of the Collision Investigation police officers, which would have been led in evidence had the trial continued.  They were unable to offer any opinion as to the speed at which you were travelling for your car to have become airborne, and to have travelled the distance that it did through the air, beyond that you must have been doing well in excess of the 50mph limit. I therefore proceed on the basis that you were travelling at a speed of at least 70mph, possibly faster, but how much faster it is impossible to say.

You have two previous driving convictions on your record, one for a previous charge of careless driving in 2007, and one for speeding in 2009. Given the age of those convictions, your relative youth at the time, and that you appear to have been driving blemish free between 2009 and 2017, when this accident occurred, I attach less weight to the convictions than I would have done had they been more recent.

Counsel has submitted on your behalf that you acknowledge that you were driving at excessive speed but that the accident has had an adverse effect on your mental health. You are remorseful for the accident and for causing Mr McLeod’s death. Despite the effect on your mental health, you continue to work full time and you have aspirations to progress within your present employment and to gain further qualifications. You have already given up your driving licence.

There is a Criminal Justice Social Work Report, which is in broadly favourable terms. It confirms your personal circumstances as described by your counsel and that you have expressed remorse. You are assessed as a low risk of reoffending. Your counsel has also tendered letters from your family, and friends, which are in supportive terms and confirm the effect the accident has had on you.

In selecting an appropriate sentence, I am entitled to have regard to the sentencing guideline issued by the Sentencing Council for England and Wales for the offence of causing death by careless driving, provided I do not apply that guideline in a mechanistic way. I require to assess your culpability for the offence, which has resulted in a person’s death.  That exercise is carried out by having regard (i) to the quality of your driving and (ii) to the degree of danger it foreseeably created

The only aspect of your driving which gives rise to the offence is your significantly exceeding the speed limit. Although your loss of control was caused by the appearance of the white van, had you been travelling within the speed limit the van would likely have had time to cross safely; and you would have had no reason to take any evasive action. I consider that the quality of your driving can reasonably be categorised as falling not far short of dangerous and as giving rise to the danger which in fact materialised, namely, that the driver of a vehicle waiting to turn right would not be able to estimate your speed and would attempt to turn when it was not safe to do so.

I therefore place your driving within level 1 of the guideline which gives a starting point of 15 months custody and a range of 36 weeks to 3 years.  Turning to consider mitigatory factors, one such factor is that the driver of the van turned in front of you, in so doing contributing to your loss of control; nonetheless, since his failure to appreciate the danger was at least in part caused by the excessive speed at which you were travelling, the weight to be attached to that factor is perhaps reduced. Greater weight falls to be attached to your remorse, which is also a mitigatory factor.

These factors reduce the indicative starting point of any custodial sentence to somewhere in the region of 9-12 months in my view. However, the guideline is an English one. The courts in England can and frequently do suspend any prison sentence for this offence. That option is not available to me. Additionally, the provisions of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 mean that I may pass a custodial sentence only if it can properly be said that no other means of dealing with you is appropriate.

Having regard to the mitigation pled on your behalf, and to your offer to plead guilty before the start of the trial, I have concluded that it cannot be said that the only appropriate sentence is custody. I consider that you can properly be dealt with by a non-custodial sentence, namely a community payback order with a requirement that you perform 300 hours of unpaid work. I am not discounting that since your discount lies in the imposition of a non-custodial sentence. You will require to complete the order within 12 months, and comply with all the conditions of it. If you breach the order you may be sentenced again as if no order had been made. 

You will also be disqualified from driving. But for your guilty plea I would have disqualified you for 6 years. Having regard to that plea, and the time it was first offered, I will discount that by one sixth, reducing the disqualification to one of 5 years.”