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HMA v Alfredo Ciociola
Dec 13, 2022
On sentencing, Lord Mulholland said:
"Alfredo Ciocola, you were convicted by a jury of causing the deaths of five people by careless driving.
The maximum sentence laid down by Parliament is 5 years imprisonment. It now falls on me to sentence you for this offence.
In doing so I take into account a number of factors which I will list and I do not take into account a number of factors, which I will list also.
Firstly, the factors which I will not take into account.
- That you fell asleep at the wheel. The jury deleted this from the charge in their verdict and I therefore do not proceed to sentence you on this basis.
- Your driving from Aberdeen to the Drummuir junction on the A96 road. The jury deleted this from the charge in their verdict, so I do not take account of this in sentence.
- That the road was dangerous. It wasn’t. Any danger on this road came from the manner of the driving upon it.
- That the driver of the other vehicle, Morag Smith was in any way at fault. She wasn’t, and she had no time to react to your vehicle entering her carriageway.
- That your vehicle and the vehicle driven by Morag Smith were defective in any way. They weren’t.
- That Morag Smith had her headlights on full beam. There is no evidence to support this.
- That you were driving in the left carriageway, whereas you normally drive at home in the right carriageway. Prior to the collision, you had driven for two days in Scotland and at the time of the collision were used to driving on the left hand side. There was no evidence that you had any difficulty driving on the left hand side.
- That you couldn't see Morag Smith’s vehicle until it was too late. The sweeping right hand bend was such that you would be able to see her vehicle as she travelled through the bend in the opposite direction to you. It should have been plainly visible to you over a long distance.
With regard to the collision itself, I take into account that at the sweeping right hand bend near to the Drummuir junction on the A96, you left your own carriageway and entered the carriageway reserved for vehicles travelling in the opposite direction to you and having done this you collided head on with Morag Smith’s vehicle and the five deaths were caused by this catastrophic manoeuvre. Why you did this only you will know. There was nothing in the evidence to explain it other than perhaps that you were distracted in checking that your son was asleep in the rear of the vehicle and when your attention was returned to the road in front you were disorientated.
That maybe so, but there is one undeniable fact. That for whatever reason you crossed into the opposite lane and collided head on at speed with Morag Smith’s vehicle.
I consider that your driving fell not that far short of dangerous.
The consequences of this were catastrophic in that in addition to your son Lorenzo and your friend’s wife, Frances Saliba losing their lives and all the serious injuries caused, 3 of the passengers in Morag Smith’s vehicle Edward Reid, Audrey Appleby and Evalyn Elrick or Collie lost their lives. I have read a number of victim impact statements from their families which I can only describe as heart-breaking.
Keith Appleby – husband of Audrey Appleby – described his wife’s death as turning his world upside down and he has to rely on carers and friends to care for him as he deals with his own health problems and the loss of his wife.
Louise Matthew the daughter of Edward Reid described her life being torn apart as a result of the death of her father. She and her family are broken without him.
Pamela Reid the wife of Edward Reid has found it hard to cope without her husband, the main bread winner in the family, as they did everything together. She has had to cope with her own health issues without the help and support of her husband.
William Elrick the brother of Evalyn Elrick or Collie and representing Evalyn’s Daughter, Son and other brother Alexander Elrick, has commented on the profound effect that their loss has had on them and their family.
I take all of this into account in imposing sentence.
Now I will list the factors personal to you which I take into account in mitigation in addition to your counsel’s submissions.
- That you are a first offender in this country and in your own country.
- That you have suffered as a result of the collision in losing your own son, your wife being seriously injured and your friend’s wife losing her life.
Having taken these factors into account I will now impose sentence. In doing so I have considered the relevant case law on sentencing in such cases and the English sentencing guidelines which I have used as a cross check.
I sentence you to three years’ imprisonment which I will order should run from 9 May 2022, the date you were first ordered into custody by a court in this country following your extradition.
I will also order that any UK driving licence should be endorsed and you should be disqualified from driving or obtaining a UK driving licence for 10 years and until you pass the extended test."