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HMA v David Day


Sep 7, 2022

At the High Court in Lanark today, Lord Beckett sentenced David Day to 4 years and 4 months’ imprisonment after he pled guilty to causing the death of Esme Henderson by dangerous driving. Mr Day was also disqualified from driving for a period of 7 years and 10 months.


On sentencing, Lord Beckett said:

"You pled guilty to causing the death of Esme Henderson, by dangerous driving on 5 August 2020.  I take account of your having pled guilty at the stage in the proceedings when you did.

I take account of your having expressed remorse for the consequences of the accident you caused about which you have shown insight and empathy.

I also take account of the very serious injuries which you suffered requiring intensive and prolonged medical treatment and the time you spent in hospital. You have been left with significant physical impairment and I recognise all of the effects on you generally.

I take account of all of the information in the social work report and notably that you have no significant previous conviction and are in effect a first offender. I note that you are assessed as presenting a low risk of reoffending.  I have considered a letter written in support of you and the medical reports and articles made available by your lawyers.  I take into account all of the points made on your behalf by counsel both on 10 August and again this morning.

I recognise that this is your first experience of prison and that prison will be difficult for you. 

Whilst you seem likely to have been suffering some kind of medical event caused by your diabetes, this was a condition about which you have known since 2016. You were given advice about how to ensure that you could drive safely and detect any risk that you may develop a hypoglycaemic episode. Professor Strachan reports that you knew that you were prone to regular episodes of mild hypoglycaemia.

Accepting and following medical advice was necessary to ensure that you could drive safely despite having diabetes. I note that your compliance was variable and you would take additional doses of insulin to manage high blood sugar contrary to warnings. You knew and had been reminded of the need to self-test your blood glucose level in the course of prolonged periods of driving. It is plain from the agreed narrative that you did not carry out a further test when you should have done in the course of your journey from Liverpool. The importance of doing so ought to have been even more obvious to you given your experiencing and reporting mild hypoglycaemic episodes at least once a week as Professor Strachan reports.

You drove for a period of 20 minutes or so in a manner which caused alarm to other motorists, first northwards on the M6 and then westwards on the A75. Motorists sought to draw to your attention that you were driving dangerously over the course of this period and at times you responded by taking corrective action demonstrating a level of awareness. Having failed to test when you should have done, these were opportunities to get off the road and address your condition and you did not do so. In the result, even before the fatal collision you had been driving dangerously over a prolonged period for a very considerable distance.

Mrs Henderson, who was a wife, mother and grandmother as well as a nurse who held a senior position in the NHS, was wholly innocent in all this as she drove lawfully when, with no warning, she died in a head-on collision which occurred in the eastbound lane where your car should not have been. 

I have read moving statements from her husband and daughters who describe a person who was kind-hearted, honest, funny and always ready to help anyone in need.  They explain the devastation brought on them by the death of someone so important to every aspect of their lives. Her close relatives have suffered serious consequences for their health, wellbeing and lifestyle.

The sentence I will pass is not in any sense a measure of the value of the life that has been lost.  There is no sentence that I can pass which can have any impact on the loss and grief felt by Esme Henderson’s loving family.

Having balanced all of the factors to which I have referred, and taking particular account of the very serious injuries you sustained and their consequences, the points made in your favour by your counsel, and having considered sentencing guidance for cases of this kind, I have reached the conclusion that there is no alternative to a prison sentence because of the gravity of the crime which you committed.  It is necessary to seek to protect the public by deterring you and others from driving dangerously in the circumstances in which you did and to punish you for doing so in the circumstances which you did which caused the death of Esme Henderson.

Had you not pled guilty, you would have gone to prison for 5 years and 6 months.  The law requires me to take account of your pleading guilty and when you did so.  I do recognise that you have suffered prolonged ill health, but in total some 14 months passed from your first appearance in court until you formally offered to plead guilty and so this was not a very early plea.  You will go to prison for 4 years and 4 months backdated to 10 August 2022 when you were remanded in custody.

In the particular circumstances of this case an appropriate disqualification from driving would have been for 7 years, but is reduced to 5 years and 8 months for your plea of guilty.

The law says I must include an extension of the disqualification to take account of your period in prison.

You are disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for 7 years and 10 months and until you pass the extended driving test and your licence is endorsed.”