Glasgow & West Scotland

Martin Muir cleared of killing Jean Forsyth in crash

A man has been cleared of killing an 84-year-old woman in a two-car crash near Neilston in East Renfrewshire.

Martin Muir's Skoda Octavia collided with a Citroen C3 car, driven by Jean Forsyth's 94-year-old husband Robert, on Greenfield Road on 1 August 2013.

Mrs Forsyth died at the scene from chest injuries.

Mr Muir, 27, was cleared of causing her death by careless driving after a jury heard his speed was not excessive and the C3 was in the middle of the road.

The trial at Paisley Sheriff Court heard that the crash happened on the single-track country road between Sergeantlaw Road and Fereneze Road, near Gleniffer Braes.

Mrs Forsyth's 94-year-old husband, retired architect Robert, from Uplawmoor, Renfrewshire, described how a pleasant day out with his wife had ended in devastating consequences.

'Fast car'

He said his wife had been secretary of the Scottish Women's Rural Institute magazine, and they were doing the rounds as she visited farms to deliver the latest issue of the magazine.

As they "meandered" along the single-track road that requires motorists to pull into the side to let another vehicle pass, he was suddenly aware of the other vehicle appearing in front of him from a blind bend.

"I was driving at between 20 to 25 miles an hour," he said. "It's not a road you can speed on.

"The car came towards me - it must have been going quite fast - and knocked my car completely on to its side."

He said he and his wife had travelled on same stretch of country road for over 40 years and always proceeded with care.

"I was in third gear, it was a nice afternoon and there was no need to be going any faster," he said.

Asked where his vehicle had been positioned just before the collision, he replied: "It was in the middle of a narrow road - you can't be anywhere else. You've got to be watching out for oncoming vehicles."

The court heard that Mr Muir, who is from Johnstone, Renfrewshire, had not been driving at "excessive" speed and that skid marks at the scene ran for almost 20m.

The jury was told that the tyre marks indicated that the car's anti-lock breaking system had clicked in as a result of the driver's "full, firm" application of the brakes before impact.

'Seconds to react'

Accident investigators concluded that the front and front nearside of the Skoda had collided at an angle with the oncoming Citroen.

The court was told, however, that at the point of impact, the road was actually wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other with care.

Giving his account, Mr Muir claimed he had been driving at between 25mph to 30mph prior to the crash with his daughter and step daughter in the rear.

"I came around the corner and the car was in the middle of the road. I braked - I had seconds to react - and collided with the car," he said.

The two girls had been screaming and crying as he led them to safety before trying to assist Mr Forsyth and his wife and calling for an ambulance.

Describing the seconds before impact, he said: "The Citroen was just there in the middle of the road - there was a massive panic and I chose to head for the field rather than the left as there was a big stone wall and I didn't think that was the best option.

"I had the girls in the back and I didn't want to place them in danger."

After the jury returned a majority not guilty verdict, Sheriff Seith Ireland told Mr Muir that he was free to leave the court.

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