Death crash driver avoids prison over family life interference

image source, Newsline Media
image captionAnna-Marie Strachan offered a "heartfelt apology"

A woman found guilty of causing a pensioner's death by driving dangerously has avoided a jail sentence after a judge agreed it would interfere with her family life.

Anna-Marie Strachan, from Fraserburgh, lost control of her car on the A90 near Rathen on 31 July 2014.

The driver of the other vehicle involved, 73-year-old James Thomson, was taken to hospital but died.

Strachan was told to to perform 300 hours of unpaid work.

She was also banned from driving for eight years.

Defence counsel Gavin Anderson had argued it would be a breach of article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights to imprison Strachan.

Mr Anderson told the High Court in Glasgow: "A prison sentence would interfere with the private and family life not only of Mrs Strachan, but also her husband and their two children."

Sentencing, judge Lady Stacey said: "This is a very difficult case for me and I have thought long and hard about it."

She told Strachan, who sat crying in the dock: "Nothing I can do today can lessen the grief of the family of Mr Thomson. Nothing I say is trying to evaluate Mr Thomson's life.

"I have decided that it is not necessary to imprison you.

"I am well aware there have been cases of mothers with children being sent to prison.

"My reasons are you are the mother of two young children aged five and 10 and you are their main carer.

"I accept your husband can't work the hours he works now and look after two young children and I am told there are no other family members who can look after the children."

'Heavy burden'

Lady Stacey also said that Strachan, who was injured in the crash, was not in good health and would require a cell to be specially adapted to her needs.

First offender Strachan apologised to the Thomson family through her defence counsel.

Mr Anderson said: "She offers them her heartfelt apology. She thinks about the collision every day and expects to think about it every day going forward.

"The accused will carry with her for the rest of her life the heavy burden that she has taken the life of another."

The High Court in Aberdeen previously heard that Strachan was seen drifting onto the other carriageway into the path of an oncoming car and did not take any action to avoid the collision.

She denied causing the crash but was found guilty of the offence by a majority verdict.

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