South Scotland

Hawick teenager admits causing friend's death by dangerous driving

Aaron Murphy Image copyright CIARAN DONNELLY
Image caption Aaron Murphy admitted causing his friend's death by driving dangerously

A Hawick teenager has expressed his "deep regret and sorrow" after admitting causing his friend's death by driving dangerously on a Borders road.

Dale Whillans, 18, died after the accident on 6 April last year.

A court heard how Aaron Murphy, 19, overtook a line of traffic before his Seat Ibiza mounted a verge, hit a road sign and rolled into a field.

Sentence was deferred at the High Court in Edinburgh and an interim driving disqualification was imposed.

Mr Whillans was a front seat passenger in the car and suffered such serious head injuries that he died as a result of the accident on the A698 Hawick to Jedburgh road.

Murphy's defence counsel Ronnie Renucci told the court: "I am instructed on behalf of Aaron Murphy to apologise on his behalf at the first public opportunity that he has had.

"I am instructed to express his deep regret and sorrow at the death of someone who was his friend, Dale Whillans."

The judge, Lady Wolffe, said: "This is indeed a very tragic case."

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Dale Whillans died in the crash on the A698 last year

Advocate depute Keith O'Mahony told the court that Murphy had performed an overtaking manoeuvre to pass several vehicles at a location where it was unsafe to do so.

The prosecutor added: "The accused and the deceased were well known to each other.

"They had the same group of friends and had been schoolmates at both primary and secondary school."

On the day of the incident, they and others had decided to drive in two cars from Hawick to Berwick upon Tweed.

They caught up with a queue of four vehicles and while the first of their cars completed an overtaking manoeuvre safely, Murphy failed to do so.

Mr O'Mahony said the noise of the vehicles accelerating caught the attention of witnesses and one thought they were travelling at more than 70mph.

He said: "Other witnesses confirm the accused was travelling in excess of the speed limit with one witness describing his speed as 'ridiculous'."

A couple travelling with young children saw his car come over the crest of a hill towards them and managed to bring their Saab almost to a halt.

'Extensive damage'

Murphy's car went off the road and collided with a road sign before hitting a dry stone wall and rolling into a ploughed field near Timpendean cottages.

The advocate depute said: "The vehicle came to rest the right way up.

"The impact caused extensive damage to the entire vehicle."

Murphy and another passenger, Lee Sanderson, got out of the vehicle but Mr Whillans, of Longcroft Road, Hawick, was unconscious and remained in the front passenger seat.

An off-duty surgeon and paramedic tried to help the victim and got him out of the vehicle.

He was taken to Borders General Hospital before being flown by helicopter to Edinburgh but did not survive his injuries.

Police investigators came to the opinion that the Seat had been travelling at excessive speed immediately before the collision.

Sentence on Murphy was deferred until next month and bail continued.

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