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HMA v Raymond Lamb
Jul 29, 2022
On sentencing Judge Watson made the following statement in court:
"Raymond Stephen Lamb, you have been convicted of charges 1 and 2 on the indictment. Charge 1 is one of driving a vehicle and its attached trailer dangerously whereby you caused the death of Yvonne Mary Lumsden, caused serious injury to a child Lily Lumsden and caused injuries to Stewart Lumsden and to the child Isabella Lumsden, all passengers in the car driven by Mrs Lumsden. You were also convicted of a second charge that, at the time you were driving the vehicle and trailer and caused the death of Mrs Lumsden, you were not covered by a valid policy of insurance. The gravity of these matters is such that a sentence of imprisonment is required.
On the afternoon of 12 July 2019 you were the driver of a Mitsubishi pickup truck. You went to the farm operated by your father and brother where you attached a fairly heavy trailer to the vehicle. Given its weight the trailer had its own braking system. The trailer which you attached to the vehicle was in very poor condition; that must have been patently obvious to you at the time. We learned in the course of trial that the braking system was badly rusted, that the handbrake was inoperative and that the drum brakes were so corroded they were unlikely to provide any effective braking. We also learned that the hitching mechanism whereby the trailer is attached to a towball on the towing vehicle was partially seized.
As you obviously knew, when the hitch of the trailer is attached to the towball it is designed to lock securely in place. The condition of this trailer was so poor that in order to securely hitch it to the towball it was necessary to manually push the locking mechanism into a secure position. Given what followed you quite clearly failed to attach it to the vehicle securely.
The responsibility for the condition of that trailer when you then pulled it along the road behind your vehicle was yours. During your evidence you appeared to think that responsibility for its condition lay with its owner. Be absolutely clear, the driver of the vehicle is responsible for the condition of the vehicle and any attached trailer. It must have been obvious to you at the start of that journey that the trailer was in a dangerous condition with defective brakes and a defective hitching mechanism yet still you decided to take it out onto the roads and travel an intended distance of some 10 miles or more
From the jury’s verdict it can also be confirmed that at the start of the journey you failed to attach the trailer’s “breakaway cable” to a fixed point on your vehicle. This compounded your failure. Had the braking system on the trailer been in working order, then in the event of the trailer becoming detached from the vehicle, the breakaway cable would have served to bring on the handbrake and cause the trailer to come to a stop. As it happens in this case however, even had you attached the breakaway cable it would have performed no effective function given the inoperative state of the trailer’s brakes.
You were grossly negligent in failing to recognise, or in ignoring, the dangerous condition of this trailer at the commencement of your journey. From the evidence it is also clear that you did not properly secure the hitching mechanism to the towball such that the trailer came adrift during the journey. When it did, with no attached breakaway cable and no functioning brake, the trailer then travelled independently from the vehicle and into the front offside of the vehicle driven by Mrs Lumsden with catastrophic consequences.
I am obliged to have regard to the gross negligence displayed by you in taking that trailer along busy public roads in that condition. I am also bound to have regard to the fact that it is your fault that Mrs Lumsden died, and that she did absolutely nothing wrong in the course of her journey. Further I have regard as an aggravating factor the fact that this was not an attempt to take this dilapidated trailer only a short distance on a quiet road. On the contrary, you embarked on a journey of many miles on busy roads. The matter is also aggravated by the injuries caused to the other occupants of Mrs Lumsden’s car and to the serious emotional harm which they have suffered as a consequence, eloquently described by Mr Lumsden in his Victim Impact Statement.
I consider nevertheless that there are very significant mitigatory factors to be taken into account in this case. Firstly, despite my description of your grossly negligent conduct at the commencement of the journey, there was nothing in the quality of your control of the vehicle or the manner of driving during the course of the journey which was to be criticised. Further, at the scene of the accident you got out of your vehicle and attempted to offer some assistance. It is also clear from the information available to me, both from the social work report and from counsel on your behalf, that you are deeply affected by this incident.
I have taken the opportunity to read a number of testimonials which have been submitted on your behalf which describe a person who is a contributor to society in work and in your family life. I also have regard in this case to the effect that a prison sentence will have on the family life of your young child.
Therefore, balancing all of the factors before me I sentence you in respect of charge 1 to a period of 2 years imprisonment, a sentence which I consider to be at the low end of the scale given the significant mitigatory factors but recognising the fatal consequences of your conduct.
In respect of charge 2, I sentence you to 8 months imprisonment to run concurrently with the sentence in relation to charge 1.
In addition, in relation to charge 1, you are also disqualified from driving and from obtaining a driving licence for a period of 5 years and will remain so disqualified until such time as you resit and pass an extended test of competency to drive. In relation to charge 2 there will be a concurrent disqualification for a period of 12 months."