Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Jail for woman who killed cyclist after using phone while driving

Julie Watson Image copyright Lesley Donald
Image caption Julie Watson was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving

A woman who killed a cyclist in Fife after using her mobile phone while driving has been jailed for five years.

Julie Watson, 36, deleted a record of the call she had made before hitting Alistair Speed, 49, from Glenrothes.

Watson, from Kinross, was found guilty of causing Mr Speed's death on the A91 between Strathmiglo and Gateside on 5 September 2013 by dangerous driving.

She was also convicted of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by deleting a record of a call on her mobile.

The mother-of-two had told police that she had taken out her phone to call an ambulance.

'Unlawful act'

But her trial at the High Court in Edinburgh heard evidence that another call had been made shortly before the 999 call.

Passing sentence at the High Court in Glasgow, judge Lord Kinclaven said driving while using a mobile phone "has the capacity to wreck lives and literally kill".

He said: "Use of a hand-held mobile phone is in itself an unlawful act.

"The fact an offender is avoidably distracted by the use of a mobile phone when committing an offence of this sort will always make an offence more serious."

Head injuries

But he told Watson: "You have demonstrated remorse which I accept is genuine for causing Mr Speed's death and you are well aware of the devastation that has been caused to Mr Speed's family, and indeed all those who knew him."

Watson was also disqualified from driving for 10 years and will have to sit an extended driving test.

Mr Speed, a Tesco supervisor, died from severe head injuries in the incident.

He was a long-standing member of Fife Century Road Club and had taken part in his last event the previous day.

Mr Speed's sister, Mhairi Laffoley, 48, said the effect of the incident on her family had been "horrendous".

'Catastrophic' results

She told the court: "My parents died within 12 weeks of the accident. It will never be the same. He was everything to us.

"Alistair started riding his bike on the road as a seven-year-old boy. He started competing as a cyclist from the age of 12. He was a very, very competent cyclist.

"He was very steady. He didn't take risks."

Advocate depute Jim Keegan QC said the results of the crash had been "catastrophic".

Solicitor advocate Gordon Martin said Watson, who has two previous convictions for speeding, was "genuinely remorseful over what happened".

He added: "She has not worked since the accident simply because she finds it difficult to come to terms with what has happened to Mr Speed."

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