SENTENCING STATEMENTS

 

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HMA v Finlay Hutchison and Kyle McLachlan

 

May 13, 2021

At the High Court in Edinburgh today Lord Boyd sentenced Kyle McLachlan to 20 months detention after the offender pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and imposed a Community Payback Order on Finlay Hutchison who pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.

 

On Sentencing Lord Boyd made the following statement in court: 

"This case is in the High Court because of the death of Scott Millar, a 33 year old father of two children, as a result of being hit by a car driven by Kyle McLachlan. He would not have been driving the car had it not been for Finlay Hutchison’s invitation and permission to do so.

Mr Millar left behind a partner and two young children.

I have read victim statements from Mr Millar’s father, his two sisters and one from his children. Scott Millar and his two sisters were largely brought up by their father following the untimely and early death of their mother and there was clearly a close bond between them. Something of the impact on the family can be found from Scott Millar Senior’s statement when he says: 'I loved my son Scott dearly. I will miss his pawky humour, his cheeky birthday cards to me and I was proud of him for being a hard working father who totally loved life and his two kids'.

His two sisters talk about the physical pain of his loss and the devastation on the family.

Nothing I can say or do and no sentence any court could competently pass can compensate for Mr Millar’s death. In particular when the sentencing is over and once you have served your sentences you will be able to live the rest of your lives with your families while the loss to the Millar family will remain. I can do nothing about that but it is apparent to me that that is something that you have both reflected on in the time since these events.

It is now over three years since Mr Millar’s death. That is a long time, not only for Mr Millar’s family but for both of you. You are both three years older. Mr Hutchison you are now 21 years old and Mr McLachlan will be 21 later this year. One of the things I will have to reflect in sentencing you is your young age at the time of these offences.

The car involved in the death of Mr Millar was a BMW M3. It is I think within judicial knowledge that it is a powerful sports car. Mr Hutchison, you told the social worker that you were seen as 'a bit of a boy racer'.  You are an accomplished racing driver and I have no doubt that you are perfectly capable of driving such a vehicle around a race track. But you were 18 years of age at the time and it is clear to me that you lacked the maturity to make proper decisions about the use of such a car on a public street.

I am told that the car was registered to the company. Frankly those that provided such a vehicle for your use need to look in the mirror and ask themselves whether they were providing you with a means of transport or a status symbol for you to act as a boy racer and a source of envy for your friends such as Mr McLachlan.

Finlay Hutchison

It is clear from the narrative that it was you who asked Kyle McLachlan to drive your car that night. You wanted to go out drinking and the arrangement was that Mr McLachlan would pick you up, drive you home, stay the night and then you would take him back the following day. As I am sure you knew Mr McLachlan had a keen interest in cars and the prospect of driving your sports car was attractive to him. The arrangement changed because you wanted taken from one venue to another to continue drinking.

You knew that Mr McLachlan did not have a full licence and was uninsured to drive your car. That is why, having learnt of the accident, you approached a police officer and told him that your car keys were missing and that you had not given them to anyone, nor given permission for anyone to drive the car. You subsequently attended the police station and gave a statement to that effect.

I have listened carefully to everything that has been said on your behalf. You bear no legal responsibility for the death of Scott Millar though it is clear from the social work report that you have reflected on the dreadful consequences of allowing Mr McLachlan the use of your car. I also accept that by the time you provided your false statement to police officers Mr McLachlan was in custody, although had the lie been maintained it potentially put him at risk of being charged with other offences. It was a stupid attempt to divert responsibility away from yourself and was necessary only because you had already committed the offences in charges 7 and 8.

You are a young man with a promising career in the family business. I do have concerns as to whether you have learnt a lesson about driving on public roads but I suspect that may play out in other forums. I have no doubt however that, with maturity, you will make a positive contribution to society and be a credit to your family.

I will deal first with charge 9; that is the attempt to pervert the course of justice. On this matter I am persuaded that I should follow the recommendation of the social worker who compiled the report if you accept the conditions and impose a community payback order.

A community payback order was imposed with an unpaid work requirement of 120 hours, discounted from 180 hours to take account of the offer to plead guilty by section 76 letter. This work is to be completed within 12 months. There is also a supervision requirement lasting 18 months.

On charge 7, I shall admonish you.

On charge 8, I shall fine you £1000, discounted from £1500, disqualify you from driving for a period of one year and endorse your licence.

On charge 10, I shall impose a fine of £1000 and disqualify you from driving for a period of 6 months.

The periods of disqualification shall be consecutive.

 

Kyle McLachlan

You were stupid enough to agree to Mr Hutchison’s proposal that you drive his car. The social enquiry report makes it clear that you take full responsibility for what occurred. I am satisfied that the remorse that you have expressed to the social worker, and through counsel this morning, is genuine and deep felt. It is significant that you have asked for a period of detention because you consider that is the only appropriate punishment. As you said in the social work report if it was a member of your family you would expect nothing less.

You are at the moment unemployed and living with your parents but it seems to me that you too can make a positive contribution to society. What is impressive is the fact that you have faced up to your responsibility for Mr Millar’s death with some courage and honesty. If that attitude is reflected in the rest of your life then you have the ability to make a good life for yourself.

In determining the sentence I need to consider the level of culpability. You have pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. But I am satisfied that it is at the lowest end of the spectrum of culpability that defines dangerous driving. You were not under the influence of drink or drugs. You were not using a mobile phone or looking at the sat nav. You were driving well within the speed limit. What appears to shift this from a momentary lapse of inattention is the fact that you had a clear view of Mr Millar in the roadway and you took no steps to avoid hitting him.

The seriousness of your offending is exacerbated by the fact that you failed to stop after the hitting Mr Millar. I accept that you did stop a short time after, and since then have not attempted to hide the fact that you were the driver responsible.

But the offence is further exacerbated by the fact that you were not licensed to drive the car and were uninsured.

You also have a previous conviction for taking your mother’s car without her permission when you were 16 years of age. You were consequently unlicensed and uninsured. That also resulted in a collision though with no injuries.

There are two matters on the positive side. First, your remorse which I accept is genuine and secondly the fact that you were only 17 years old at the time. Accordingly, on charge 1, balancing all these matters, and having regard to your age at the time, had you been convicted after trial I would have imposed a sentence of 24 months detention. In light of your plea I shall discount that to one of 20 months detention in a young offenders’ institution.

I shall disqualify you from driving or holding a licence for a period of 5 years and order that you may not apply for a licence until you have passed the extended test under section 34 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act.

On charge 3, I shall impose a sentence of two months detention to run concurrently with the sentence imposed on charge 1.

I shall admonish you on charges 5 and 6."

13 May 2021