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HMA v Craig Melville


Feb 22, 2023

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Lord Fairley sentenced Craig Melville to 6 years' imprisonment after he pled guilty to causing the death of his son by dangerous driving. Mr Melville also caused the serious injury, permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment of another female passenger in his vehicle.

On sentencing, Lord Fairley said:

"Craig Melville, you have pleaded guilty to causing the death of your son, Craig, and to causing serious injury, permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment to another passenger in your vehicle all by your dangerous driving on 27 March 2021.

"When police officers first saw you that night on the B817, Ballachraggan Straight, you were driving at a speed of 137 miles per hour, more than twice the speed limit for that road.  The police officers activated the blue lights on their vehicle to indicate to you to stop, but you did not do so. Instead, having initially slowed as you approached the police vehicle, you then accelerated away again.

"The police pursued you. At the T junction where the B817 meets the B9176 Struie Road, you drove on the wrong side of the road, through a “no entry” sign up the slip road to the B9176 and accelerated away at a grossly excessive speed. Around half a minute after you had first passed the police vehicle on the B817, you lost control of your car on the approach to a right hand bend on the B9176. Your vehicle collided with a stone wall and split into two parts.

"The police vehicle which had been trying to follow you was being driven at over 94 miles per hour but was unable to keep pace with you. At the point when you lost control of your car, you were driving at well in excess of that speed.

"Your son – an only child – was killed in the crash. A female who was also a rear seat passenger, has suffered life-changing injuries.

"I have listened carefully to everything that has been said on your behalf today. I have read and noted the contents of the Victim Impact Statements from the female passenger and from your wife, and the terms of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report dated 17 February 2023.

"I have taken into account the Guidelines issued by the Scottish Sentencing Council on the principles and purposes of sentencing. I have also taken account of previous sentences imposed in other cases for offences of this kind, of the English Definitive Guidance on sentencing for causing death by driving; and, to the extent that it currently offers general assistance, the draft Guideline produced by the Scottish Sentencing Council on that same topic. 

"Whilst the tragedy of this case is almost unimaginable, you will appreciate that the only appropriate sentence I can impose – having regard, in particular, to the sentencing objective of deterrence – is one of imprisonment.

"Aggravating factors in this case are your earlier conviction for speeding in 2020, the very serious injuries suffered by the female passenger and the reasonable inference from the agreed narrative that, at the time of the crash you were trying to out-run a police vehicle. A substantial mitigating factor is that the person killed was a much loved family member - your only child. As has been said, that is something that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

"Had you been convicted after trial, I would have imposed a sentence of imprisonment of 9 years. In light of the timing of your plea of guilty under section 76 procedure, I will modify the period of custody by the conventional proportion of one third to a sentence of imprisonment of 6 years. I will also backdate that sentence to 25 January 2023, being the date on which you were first remanded into custody following your plea of guilty.

"I also disqualify you from driving. Had you been convicted after trial, the period of disqualification would have been of 15 years. Again, I will modify that period of disqualification to one of 10 years to reflect the timing of your plea. I am required by law to add to that discretionary period of disqualification an extension period of 3 years to reflect the minimum period of time that you will spend in custody. The total period of disqualification from driving is accordingly one of 13 years, inclusive of the period of interim disqualification of 28 days imposed by me on 25 January.

"In practical terms, the total period of disqualification is therefore of 13 years from 25 January 2023.   

"Your driving record with the DVLA will be endorsed, and you will be required to sit the extended driving test should you wish to hold a driving licence again. Whether you are fit to do so will be a matter for the DVLA to determine at the appropriate time."