Tayside and Central Scotland

Death crash academic sentenced to community service

Nathan Bailey Image copyright Central Scotland News Agency
Image caption Nathan Bailey admitted causing death by careless driving at Stirling Sheriff Court

A leading scientist who admitted causing a car crash which killed a retired headmaster has been sentenced to community service.

St Andrews University academic Nathan Bailey, 34, admitted responsibility for the crash on the M9 that claimed the life of Ronald Highcock.

The 83-year-old died in hospital in May 2013, three weeks after the motorway collision near Bridge of Allan.

Bailey was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work and a one-year driving ban.

Mr Highcock and his wife were travelling home from their wedding anniversary dinner on 28 April when the crash happened near junction 10 of the dual carriageway.

Bailey's Renault Clio hit the side of Mr Highcock's Citroen Saxo, which was travelling at about 40-45mph, causing both cars to crash off the road and down an embankment.

Mr Highcock's car crashed head-on into a tree, and he had to be cut free by fire crews.

Image caption Both cars went down an embankment after the crash on the M9 near Bridge of Allan

He managed to give a statement to police at Forth Valley Royal Hospital before he died, succumbing to chest injuries sustained in the crash and a secondary cause of heart disease on 20 May.

American citizen Bailey, of Dundee, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at Stirling Sheriff Court.

'Tragic incident'

Defence advocate Gavin Anderson submitted a number of defences of Bailey's character, including a letter from his professor at the university's school of biology describing him as "one of the leading researchers in the world" in his field.

Sheriff William Gilchrist said it was "clear" the crash had resulted from Bailey's failure to notice Mr Highcock's car was travelling on the motorway at "a slow rate".

He said: "This was clearly a tragic incident.

"Not only was it a tragedy for the deceased and his family, it is also clear that the accident has had a profound impact on you.

"I am satisfied this was a case of careless driving involving inattention and having regard to that, and your lack of record, and to your genuine remorse and your lack of aggravating factors I will impose a 12-month community payback order."

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