Highlands & Islands

Fortrose driver challenges crash ruling

A driver has successfully challenged a legal ruling that he must share the blame for a crash in the Highlands that left a would-be model in a wheelchair.

Stephen Skinner, 23, of Fortrose, was named in a claim for £3.5m in damages made by Rachel Davis, 23, of Muir of Ord.

Ms Davis settled out of court in 2010 with John Catto, who was driving the car she was in, and his insurers.

Skinner's insurers faced paying 20% of any damages and expenses claimed.

Undisclosed sum

But he has successfully challenged the claim after lodging an appeal at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Ms Davis was a front seat passenger in Catto's car when it came off the A832 Avoch to Munlochy Road in March 2006.

It was alleged Catto, 21, also of Muir of Ord, was racing a car driven by Skinner. The pair denied they were racing.

The two drivers appeared at Dingwall Sheriff Court in February 2007.

Skinner, an apprentice footballer with Ross County FC at the time of the crash, was fined £750 and banned for a year after admitting careless driving.

Catto was ordered to carry out 220 hours unpaid community work and banned for 30 months after admitting driving dangerously.

Ms Davis went on to sue for damages and settled out of court for an undisclosed sum with Catto and his insurers.

In a newly-released written ruling, appeal judge Lord Eassie, sitting with Lady Smith and Lord Abernethy, said Skinner could not be blamed for the crash.

The judges said: "While deplorable the fact of his driving at an excessive speed when Mr Catto elected to overtake at an even greater excessive speed does not mean that the third party (Skinner) thereby becomes jointly responsible for the accident."

The decision does not affect Ms Davis' settlement.

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