South Scotland

Dumfries and Galloway A74(M) death driver jail term cut

Crash scene
Image caption Rai was found guilty by a majority of the offence on the motorway in southern Scotland last year

A wedding caterer who caused the death of a guest after driving while banned has avoided returning to jail after appeal judges reduced his prison term.

Jamie Rai, 42, of Wednesbury, in the West Midlands, was originally jailed for 18 months.

He had been found guilty by a majority of the offence on the A74(M) in Dumfries and Galloway in last July.

A challenge to his conviction was rejected at the Court of Appeal but the sentence was cut to a year.

Rai's counsel, Claire Mitchell, resisted a move by the Crown to have him returned to prison to serve an outstanding period of custody of seven days.

The Lord Justice General, Lord Hamilton, said: "We are satisfied it is not in the interests of justice that the appellant should be required to serve the balance of the sentence."

Rai, 42, was convicted of causing the death of Raju Singh on 27 July last year by driving a van on the A74(M) near Johnstonebridge while disqualified and uninsured.

He was on his way back home after attending a wedding in Glasgow as part of a team of caterers and took over at the wheel after the driver felt tired.

Mr Singh, 28, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, was a guest at the wedding and was being driven back to England with family members when an argument developed.

He got out of the car and began walking but found himself on the road in the dark.

Passengers in the van driven by Rai felt a collision and thought it had hit an animal on the road. Rai then pulled over onto the hard shoulder.

Giving evidence at the original trial, other motorists and lorry drivers described how they too hit an "object" on the road.

Rai challenged his conviction for the offence, but Lord Clarke, sitting with Lady Smith and Lord Wheatley, rejected the bid at the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh.

Lord Clarke said: "There was clearly, in our view, sufficient credible and reliable evidence before the jury for them to hold that, beyond a reasonable doubt, the deceased's death had been caused by the appellant."

'Formidable criticism'

However, the appeal judges said they would reduce the 18-month term imposed on him by the sheriff.

Lord Clarke said the traffic offence for which Rai was convicted had been the subject of "some formidable criticism".

"It is sufficient for its commission that there is a factual causal link between the driver being unlawfully on the road and the fatality, the nature and quality of the driving being irrelevant," he said.

"It has been said that the 'mismatch between fault and consequences is striking'.

"Sentencing in respect of this offence may not prove an easy task for the sentencing judge in any particular case."

He said the appeal judges were satisfied that the only truly aggravating features in Rai's case were his previous convictions, especially for road traffic offences.

He had earlier been convicted of driving while banned.

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