Moray fatal crash court hearing affected by coronavirus

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Crash victims
Image caption,
Four of those who died in the crash: From left to right: Ted Reid, Audrey Appleby, Evalyn Collie, Frances Saliba Patanè

A court case involving an Italian man accused of causing a fatal crash in Moray has been affected by coronovirus, the High Court in Glasgow has heard.

Alfredo Ciociola, pleaded not guilty to causing the deaths of five people, including a four-year-old boy, on the A96 near Keith.

The 47-year-old, from Sicily, was due at a hearing, but the court heard his travel plans had been disrupted.

Judge Lady Stacey allowed the hearing to go ahead in his absence.

Mr Ciociola's QC Ian Duguid said: "His original plans involved travelling via Rome and Amsterdam. Sicily was not one of the zones that precluded travel, but now it is I believe."

Mr Duguid asked for the hearing to go ahead without Mr Ciociola being present.

Lady Stacey replied: "In light of geography, I am prepared to grant the application."

Mr Duguid pleaded not guilty on Mr Ciociola's behalf to the charge of causing deaths and serious injury by dangerous driving.

'Repeatedly braking'

Mr Ciociola is alleged to have crashed a Fiat minibus into a 4x4 after falling asleep at the wheel.

Fellow Italians Frances Saliba, 63, and four-year-old Lorenzo Ciociola - passengers in his vehicle - died.

Edward Reid, 63, from Macduff, and Audrey Appleby, 70, and Evalyn Elrick, 69, both from Aberchirder, all Aberdeenshire, were in the other car and also died.

Four other people were injured.

Mr Ciociola has also been accused of failing to pay proper attention, repeatedly braking and then driving onto the opposite side of the road.

Mr Duguid said Mr Ciociola would need an interpreter at any future court date as he was only fluent in Italian.

Both he and prosecutor Mark McGuire agreed that a trial could be set.

Lady Stacey fixed a trial due to begin on 7 August in Edinburgh.