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Sheriff Patrick Hughes has sent a message to motorists to not take risks when carrying out overtaking manoeuvres, or face the consequences.
He was speaking at the July sitting of Campbeltown Sheriff Court after finding a man guilty of dangerous driving on the A83 near to Ballochantuy on January 31 last year, after overtaking on a blind bend, colliding with an oncoming car, injuring the other driver.
Stanley Neish Greene, a 57-year-old self-employed lorry driver, was disqualified from driving for 12 months and fined a total of £790 including a victim surcharge. He must pass the extended test before he can regain his licence.
His defence agent said that Greene would face significant financial hardship.
The sheriff said that accidents like this were a ‘real problem in Argyll’.
‘The sentence must reflect the court’s disapproval and send a clear message to drivers,’ Sheriff Hughes added.
Procurator fiscal depute Anne Marie Hicks told the court the accident happened at the north end of the straight stretch of road near the Putechan Hotel; Greene was driving north in his Mercedes car and overtook a pickup truck towing an empty 12ft long livestock trailer on the blind bend.
The livestock haulier, who was returning home to Muasdale, said: ‘I looked in my mirror and the car was coming up alongside me.’
‘I braked hard left because there was a car coming [heading south].’
He took his pickup over onto the verge to avoid being involved in the collision.
‘I saw the other car go up into the air, and on his side in the ditch,’ he told the fiscal. ‘You can’t see what’s coming round that corner.’
Camera footage from a car travelling behind the Mercedes was shown to the court and the driver could be heard shouting ‘no way’ in disbelief as the accident took place.
The camera continued recording once this driver stopped and showed him running to the crash site while his partner called the emergency services; the livestock haulier had also called.
Greene and the two witnesses got the other vehicle, a Suzuki Vitara, back on its wheels; a police patrol was already on the A83 and arrived quickly.
Initially the driver was trapped by both feet in the car, but he managed to free one foot and the police managed to free his other ankle.
An officer from the road police unit, who is an expert in crash scene and vehicle examinations, said in his evidence that the point of impact between the vehicles could be seen by the gouge marks in the road surface and pattern of the debris; it happened in the east-side lane opposite the entrance to the Bellochantuy Farm beach lay-by and picnic area.
The lack of significant tyre marks on the road showed that neither driver had time to see each other and react on the bend because of the lack of visibility.
‘There was significant impact damage,’ the officer said.
The driver on the Suzuki Vitara was a 64-year-old self-employed forestry worker on his way home from work; he was sent to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow for scans to his knee and lower leg, had to wear a brace for three months and was last seen by a physiotherapist only weeks ago.
‘I still have problems with ligaments in my ankle,’ he said, adding that he was off work for three months and then had a gradual return.
There are certain aspects of his work, such as climbing onto machines for repairs, that he can no longer do because of the risk of aggravating the injury.
A keen field sportsman, he can no longer cover rougher terrain when out shooting or fishing.
Greene, of 34 Marsden Wynd, East Kilbride, pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving.
The holder of an HGV licence, with a clean licence, he was working in Kintyre and travelling back to his accommodation from Campbeltown.
He said that as he came up to the bend, the pickup truck and livestock trailer had slowed down.
‘I thought he was going to stop or pull into the car park area.’
‘I made a wrong judgement at that time; it arose out of a misunderstanding. He slowed down and moved to the left as though going off the road.’
Sheriff Hughes said that after hearing the evidence, he was in no doubt that the incident was dangerous and not careless driving and found Greene guilty but he took into account his clean licence and the fact that Green remained at the scene and helped to get the vehicle back on its tyres.