Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

M8 crash driver admits causing 'fireball' death

Alexander Cassidy Image copyright Vic Rodrick
Image caption Alexander Cassidy's van slammed into Mr Strickland's car and smashed it into a car in front

A van driver has admitted causing the death of another motorist in a crash on the M8 in West Lothian by driving without due care and attention.

Alexander Cassidy crashed into Wayne Strickland's car near Livingston last July, causing it to burst into flames.

Cassidy, 29, from Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, originally faced a charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Judge Lord Clark banned him from driving and called for reports ahead of sentencing on 19 April.

Cassidy admitted failing to observe slow-moving and stationary traffic which had tailed back onto the inside lane at J3 of the M8 because of roadworks on the A899.

The High Court at Livingston was told his Mercedes Sprinter van slammed into the back of Mr Strickland's Peugeot car, shunting it into the vehicle in front.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Wayne Strickland was trapped in his car as it was engulfed by flames

Mr Strickland, who was severely injured, was trapped in his car which almost immediately exploded into flames.

Advocate depute Jane Farquhar, prosecuting, said the fire "consumed his car and its contents" before spreading to a Kia Rio in front and the Mercedes van driven by the accused.

She said: "The accused tried immediately to get in Mr Strickland's car, which was engulfed in flames.

"He had to be dragged away because it was too hot and there were fears it might explode."

She said a doctor who was in a car further up the slip road saw the fire and ran back to offer any medical assistance she could.

Image caption Mr Strickland's car exploded after impact

The doctor saw Cassidy pacing about the scene with his head in his hands.

She heard him say: "I tried the door. I tried to get him out, but the door was jammed.

"It's all my fault! It's all my fault! If I'd been able to stop, it would not have happened."

She revealed that a post-mortem examination found evidence of traumatic injuries which could have caused Mr Strickland's death.

The father-of-two, from Inverkeithing, Fife, had multiple injuries, including a fracture of the front of the skull, broken ribs and fractures of the spine.

'Death on impact'

He also had a lacerated liver and severe fire damage to all of his body which had destroyed his skin.

However, Ms Farquhar said there was no convincing evidence of combustion inhalation, which indicated that perhaps death might have occurred on impact and not as a result of the fire.

She said Cassidy "accepts that he failed to properly observe that slow-moving and stationary traffic ahead of him".

Barry Smith, defence advocate, told the court: "Mr Cassidy is most anxious I should formally express and record on this day his most sincere regret and remorse at the tragic consequences of this accident.

"Also (he wants me) to express on his behalf his most sincere condolences to the family of Mr Strickland, some of whom are in court today."

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