Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Dalkeith crash death husband speaks of loss after driver sentenced

Sharon Baines Image copyright Rob Baines
Image caption Accountant Sharon Baines was killed while out on her daily run

A man has spoken of his family's loss after the driver who killed his wife was sentenced for careless driving.

Rob Baines, from Dalkeith, Midlothian, recalled seeing an ambulance pass the bus he was on, only to learn an hour later it was responding to his wife.

Sharon Baines, 53, died in hospital after being hit by a car that mounted a kerb on 12 December 2017.

Chloe McCole, 21, was sentenced to 300 hours unpaid work after admitting causing death by careless driving.

She was also banned from driving for 32 months.

Mr Baines said his "whole world fell apart" the day his wife died.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard Mrs Baines, an accountant originally from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, was on her daily jog when the crash happened at 06:45.

CCTV showed the area was lit by streetlights and she was wearing a high-visibility jacket while waiting on the pavement at the junction of Melville Gate Road and Old Dalkeith Road.

Nursery worker McCole, who was 19 at the time, mounted the kerb in her silver Ford Fiesta, striking Mrs Baines head-on and throwing her into a metal signpost.

She was rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary but died a short time later from head and neck injuries.

'Genuinely remorseful'

A police investigation found there was no adverse weather or road conditions that may have caused the collision, and no evidence McCole was speeding or using her mobile phone.

Sheriff Alistair Noble told her: "You failed to follow an elementary rule of driving which is keeping your car on the road.

"The consequences here were devastating - Mrs Baines lost her life and the opportunity to see her children grow up.

"It is plain to me you are genuinely remorseful. Assessing all circumstances it doesn't occur to me that a custodial sentence would be appropriate here."

McCole, who had no previous convictions, was ordered to carry out 300 hours unpaid work within 12 months and banned from driving for 32 months, reduced from four years due to her early plea. She will have to sit an extended driving test after this time.

Image copyright Digby Brown
Image caption Rob Baines said he believed the crash would affect the young driver for the rest of her life

Recalling morning of the crash, Mr Baines said: "I was on the bus to work and got a message from my son Alistair saying Sharon hadn't come home - then an ambulance went past.

"I could see the blue lights continue ahead. I started feeling like the walls were closing in and my heart pounding in my chest.

"When I finally got to work I got a call from him saying the police were at our house to take us to hospital.

"I felt numb. My whole world just fell apart."

Mr Baines said he and their two children then faced the devastating reality of turning off the life support machine.

He added: "That day passed in a blur. The hospital staff were great and did everything they could but the consultant said they were simply prolonging her death rather than her life."

The couple first met in 1991 as serving officers in the Royal Navy and moved from Stevenage, Hertfordshire to Dalkeith in 1999 when Mr Baines took a job at Standard Life.

'Optimistic future gone'

Mr Baines, whose children Megan and Alistair are now 21 and 19, said in a statement released through Digby Brown Solicitors: "I think about how similarly aged Chloe is to my kids and how I'd feel if they were in her shoes.

"Chloe didn't set out to kill anyone that morning - I do believe she is sorry and this will no doubt affect her for the rest of her life whether she's locked up or not.

"Ultimately, my partner and friend and my children's mum has been stolen from us. Sharon and I were at a point in life when we could spend some time together.

"This optimistic future was gone in the blink of an eye. I cannot see myself or the kids ever getting over this."

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