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HMA V Andrew Taylor


Oct 5, 2023

At the High Court in Glasgow today, Lord Arthurson sentenced Andrew Taylor to 12 years in prison. The offender had previously pled guilty to causing death by dangerous driving whilst under the influence of drugs. He has also been disqualified from driving for 16 years.

On sentencing, Lord Arthurson told Taylor:

“Andrew Taylor, on 4 September 2023 at Glasgow High Court you tendered a plea of guilty at a preliminary hearing to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving and while unfit to drive through the consumption of drugs, namely the class A controlled drugs cocaine and diamorphine and the class C drugs clonazepam and diazepam, all contrary to the Road Traffic Act 1988 sections 1 and 4(1).

You are now 48 years old. You have accrued to date eight previous summary level convictions, notably four under the Road Traffic Act.  You have never been to prison before.  Today, however, you will well appreciate that you will be receiving a very substantial custodial disposal from this court.

Your victim, Mr Wilson, was aged 60.  He had been married to Mrs Wilson for 35 years.  He is survived by her and their two children and three grandchildren and by his mother and his two sisters.  In her impact statement Mrs Wilson has eloquently described her late husband as her life partner and soul mate. No sentence that I can impose today will ameliorate her continued suffering, or that of Mr Wilson’s grieving family, all caused by the bereavement inflicted upon them by your criminal actions in this case.  Indeed, I would anticipate that no sentence available to this court would be regarded by them as sufficient punishment, and, speaking for myself, I can well understand that.

On the afternoon of 23 April 2022 Mr Wilson set off for a motorcycle ride, fully intending to return home and thereafter with his wife attend at their daughter’s house for dinner.  The weather was clear and dry.  He did not return home, because, at 1545 hours, he encountered you on the A72, between Innerleithen and Walkerburn, driving your Mini Countryman towards him at a bend entirely on the wrong side of the carriageway.  You collided with Mr Wilson head-on.  He had no time to avoid the inevitable collision.  He sustained multiple injuries, which I do not propose to list but which in summary I would describe as catastrophic. Mr Wilson was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene of the collision, at 1620 hours.

The night before this crash occurred, you had stayed up late with a friend drinking alcohol and consuming cocaine. You drove your vehicle to a shop in Galashiels, arriving at 1500 hours on 23 April, the afternoon of the collision. On leaving the shop you drove off. When you subsequently at 1545 hours drove your vehicle into a head-on collision with Mr Wilson you were unfit to drive due to your consumption of a variety of drugs, including cocaine, diamorphine, diazepam and clonazepam. It is not difficult to infer that you had plainly been driving, making various journeys, while so intoxicated for some period that afternoon.

Following the collision, prior to the arrival of the emergency services, many members of the public attended to provide active help, including in particular Rebecca Winning, an off-duty nurse who began to perform CPR, and Keith Brown, who obtained a defibrillator for use at the scene.  In contrast with the highly commendable conduct of these members of the public, you appeared to be struggling to speak coherently and were struggling to stay awake.  You were yourself uninjured but when taken into an ambulance you actually fell asleep. A preliminary drugs test was positive for cocaine.  A later blood sample disclosed the presence in your system of a variety of drugs including cocaine and morphine, the latter being the principal metabolite of diamorphine.

Collision investigators have confirmed that the point of impact was wholly within the westbound lane, that is to say the lane properly being driven in by Mr Wilson.  In contrast with that unequivocal finding, you told the police on 25 April 2022 on your arrest that you were on the correct side of the road and that Mr Wilson’s bike had crossed the road and hit you head on.

The timing of your plea of guilty in this case is of note.  You were scheduled to plead guilty to a section 76 indictment at a hearing fixed in court for 16 December 2022.  You, however, failed to appear and the diet was not called.  Following service of the indictment the preliminary hearing set down for 21 July 2023 was discharged and the terms of your present plea agreed on 23 August 2023.

A criminal justice social work report has been prepared for this morning’s sentencing hearing. It makes for rather grim reading. You confirmed to the author that you stayed up late the night before the collision drinking alcohol and consuming drugs, and that the following afternoon, although you recalled driving, you had a limited recollection of where you had been and where you were going. You accepted that you were under the influence of substances and should not have been driving. During your interview with the author you, quite extraordinarily standing your plea of guilty tendered in this court on 4 September, proceeded yet again to blame Mr Wilson for causing the collision. Indeed, you in my view outrageously made the appalling suggestion that Mr Wilson’s family were financially motivated. The author describes your attitude to the consequences of your actions as blasé and has questioned the authenticity of your apparently stated remorse. In the light of this material I do not accept that you are remorseful at all. To compound matters, you admitted to the author of the report that the night before you appeared in court last month to tender your guilty plea in this case you had injected cocaine. That would certainly explain your obviously detached manner as you sat in the dock during the proceedings in court at that diet.

Your senior counsel has advanced very candid submissions in mitigation on your behalf this morning.  I have adjourned from the bench to consider these and confirm that in particular I note what has been said regarding your stated remorse, your personal circumstances, your traumatic upbringing, your history of the misuse of controlled drugs and your acceptance that you were on the date of the collision unfit to drive through the consumption by you of such drugs.

I turn now to disposal. It is plain that only a very high tariff custodial sentence is appropriate in your case. You drove your vehicle in a highly dangerous manner while on any view grossly impaired through the consumption of a cocktail of drugs, including two class A drugs, namely cocaine and diamorphine, along with the class C drugs clonazepam and diazepam.  Your victim was a motorcyclist. The whole circumstances pertaining to your criminal conduct in this case place your offending in my view towards the very highest level of gravity in the range of such cases which come before the court.  Instead of providing assistance, as did many members of the public, you could barely speak and proceeded to fall asleep when being checked in the ambulance. You then, on your arrest some days later, in a blatantly false manner, blamed Mr Wilson for the collision which had so tragically claimed his life and for which you were of course yourself wholly responsible.  You have doubled down on that approach by further victim-blaming in the course of your interview with the author of the background report. In that interview you even had the temerity to make wholly inappropriate and scurrilous remarks about Mr Wilson’s bereaved family. The limited remorse expressed by you is clearly false and without substance. You additionally on your own admission injected cocaine the night before appearing in court to tender your guilty plea last month. Finally, although all summary, I note that you have accrued four previous convictions under the Road Traffic Act, the last in as recently as 2019 for careless driving in terms of section 3 of that Act.

In these whole circumstances I have selected a headline custodial tariff in this case of 12 years imprisonment.  The utility of your plea has been significantly undermined by your failure to appear at a scheduled High Court pleading diet in December 2022. Further, bearing in mind the nature of your own conduct in these proceedings as already mentioned, and the fact that the nature of the evidence required to be led to establish your guilt would be largely formal and forensic in nature, with none of it being in any sense controversial, I have decided in the exercise of my discretion, looking at matters in the round, to restrict the allowable discount in this sentencing exercise to nil. 

Andrew Taylor, you will accordingly on charge 3 on this indictment serve a sentence of 12 years imprisonment, backdated to the date of your plea of guilty and remand into custody in this court on 4 September 2023. 

You will in addition be disqualified from driving for a period of 16 years, being a period of 10 years plus a period of 6 years, the latter period representing one-half of the custodial disposal imposed today.  At the conclusion of that disqualification period you will require to re-sit an extended test of driving competence before you can apply for any future licence.”

5 October 2023