South Scotland

Dumfries and Galloway motorway death driver jailed

Crash scene
Image caption The A74(M) was closed after Mr Singh was struck by several vehicles in July this year

A man who caused the death of a wedding guest by driving while disqualified has been jailed for 18 months.

James Rai, 41, of Wednesbury, in the West Midlands was found guilty by a majority of the offence on the A74(M) in Dumfries and Galloway in July.

At Dumfries Sheriff Court, he had denied causing the death of Raju Singh, 28, from Washington, in Tyne and Wear.

The case was described as unique and Rai's advocate said his culpability was "that he was on the road at all".

Throughout the five-day trial he had maintained a plea of not guilty to causing Mr Singh's death by driving while disqualified and without insurance on the motorway near Johnstonebridge on 27 July.

He admitted separate charges of driving while disqualified and without insurance.

His advocate, Frances Connor, said: "It is clear from evidence that his driving was not at fault and was not to blame for the tragedy that happened that night.

"His culpability was that he was on the road at all."

The jury had heard how Mr Singh had been at a wedding in Glasgow prior to the accident.

He was returning home to Tyne and Wear in a car driven by his brother-in-law when he fell out with another relative and the car pulled into the Johstonebridge service area where the driver tried to calm things down.

The row escalated and Mr Singh stormed off saying he was going to walk home.

'Hit a deer'

Efforts were made to locate him and he answered his mobile from the motorway stating he was heading south.

Rai was also travelling on the motorway having been working as a caterer at the wedding where Mr Singh had been a guest.

A passenger in Rai's van told the court: "There was a bump and the windscreen shattered - we thought we had hit a deer."

Other motorists and lorry drivers in evidence described how they too hit an "object" on the road.

Sheriff George Jamieson said he acknowledged that the standard of Rai's driving could not be said to be the cause of death.

However, he stressed that he should not have been on the road and it was the second time he had been convicted of driving while disqualified.

He added that Rai had been in custody since 28 July and he backdated his sentence to that date and banned him from driving for four years.

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