Glasgow & West Scotland

Drink-driver jailed for crash helper deaths

Thomas Irvine
Image caption Thomas Irvine was more than double the legal limit for alcohol

A drink-driver who killed two men as they helped an elderly woman trapped inside her crashed car has been jailed for nine years.

Thomas Irvine, from Paisley, was more than double the legal limit when his car hit the men on the A737 Linclive Spur, Renfrewshire, in January 2010.

Thomas Rarity, 47, from Bathgate, died at the scene and Anthony Gordon, 39, from Glasgow, died six days later.

Irvine, 48, admitted causing their deaths by driving dangerously.

The court heard how the tragedy unfolded after Isabella Kelly, 71, pulled out from the inside lane on the eastbound carriageway in her Volkswagen Polo.

She came into the path of a car which was in the outside lane. The collision caused the Polo to cross the central reservation and come to rest upside down in the westbound carriageway.

Mr Rarity and Mr Gordon ran to help the pensioner.

Both men crossed from the eastbound carriageway, over the central crash barrier, into the westbound carriageway and tried to get Ms Kelly out of her car.

They had been standing beside her car for about 40 seconds when Irvine overtook a row of cars stopped on the inside lane with their hazard warning lights on.

The court was told how Irvine was estimated to be travelling at 70mph in his Vauxhall Combo van when he drove it into the two men and upturned Volkswagen Polo.

The HGV driver and qualified plumber did not brake after the collision and his van ended up in a ditch.

Mark Stewart QC, defending, said father-of-two Irvine was fully aware of the "tragic consequences" of his actions and wanted to express his "regret and sorrow" for what he did.

Judge Lord Pentland, sitting at the High Court in Edinburgh, jailed him for nine years and imposed a 12-year driving ban.

He said: "The catastrophic outcome of your reckless and grossly irresponsible conduct extends well beyond the tragic fact that two men lost their lives.

"Their families and friends also suffered, and will continue to suffer, great pain and distress."

Mr Rarity's relatives later paid tribute to the "caring and loving" man and said no sentence could ever be long enough.

Mr Gordon's family and friends made no statement.

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