Glasgow & West Scotland

Robert Brown jailed for causing Loch Fyne crash deaths

A bricklayer who caused the death of two of his apprentices by driving dangerously and crashing into a cement mixer has been jailed for two years.

Robert Brown, 65, caused the head-on crash when he tried to overtake a line of traffic on the A83 at Cairndow, near Loch Fyne in Argyll, in February 2013.

Scott Prior, 20, and Mark McColl, 24, died at the scene.

At the High Court in Perth, Brown, who admitted causing the crash, was also banned from driving for 15 years.

The court heard that Brown had trained both men and would suffer the devastating consequences of his actions for "the rest of his life."

Brown, from Renton, West Dunbartonshire, admitted overtaking traffic and smashing his van into a concrete mixer on 12 February last year.

'Dreadful tragedy'

Lord Bannatyne told Brown: "What happened was a dreadful tragedy. These two men died and their families have been deprived of them.

"It is impossible for the court to place a value on the life of either of these men.

"No doubt their families have been deeply affected by their loss. I suspect no sentence I impose will be sufficient in their eyes.

"The incident has clearly had a profound effect on you and you have experienced feelings of extreme guilt and remorse.

"You have always accepted responsibility for what happened and have in no way sought to minimise it."

Counsel for Brown, Thomas Ross, said his client had been driving for 47 years and had no previous convictions.

Mr Ross told the court: "He accepts he is fully deserving of punishment. I would categorise the offence as arising from a momentary error of judgment. It was a bad error with catastrophic consequences.

"Two young men lost their lives and another was injured. These are matters Mr Brown very much regrets. He experiences profound and ongoing feelings of guilt.

"He had trained both as apprentices. These were young men he was very fond of. He doesn't pretend he has suffered as much as the families of Scott Prior and Mark McColl."

Overtaking manoeuvre

The crash happened at about 16:30 as the men were returning home after working in Oban.

The court heard how the driver of a flatbed truck behind Brown's van had pulled out and overtaken him and three other vehicles.

Brown tried a similar overtaking manoeuvre but ran out of road on a left hand bend with a restricted view of oncoming traffic.

The passenger side of his van struck the passenger side of the oncoming concrete mixer.

The van left the road and rotated in the air before landing on the driver's side and coming to a halt on the shore of Loch Fyne.

Mr Prior, from Dumbarton, and Mr McColl, from Bonhill, both died at the scene from massive head injuries.

Brown had to be cut from the wreckage by firefighters and suffered a spinal fracture.

The court heard that he told one of the firefighters: "I've messed up here."

The cement mixer driver, Mark Cox, was also injured.

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