Trial begins of 83-year-old Jeep driver accused of killing man by careless driving

Dundee Sheriff Court
Dundee Sheriff Court

The trial began this week of an 83-year-old woman accused of killing a man in a head-on smash while towing a horsebox.

Jacqueline Low-Mitchell is alleged to have been driving a Jeep towing a horsebox when she overtook a cyclist on a blind crest and ploughed into a modified Vauxhall Nova being driven by mechanic Adam Maxwell (28).

The cyclist told a jury at Dundee Sheriff Court that she thought the driver of the 4x4 was an “idiot” for trying to pass her so close to the brow of a hill.

Sandra Tulloch (40) said she was half way through a 20-mile loop from her home in St Andrews when the Jeep and horsebox overtook her on the A916 Cupar to Craigrothie Road in north-east Fife.

She said she thought “idiot” as the 4x4 passed her - then put her head down to climb the hill before hearing a loud bang.

Miss Tulloch said: “When the 4x4 overtook me I couldn’t see anything coming the other way - you can’t see anything coming the other way there.”

Fiscal depute Vicki Bell asked her: “Did you have any thoughts when the 4x4 started to overtake?”

Miss Tulloch said: “Yes - idiot.”

She added: “There’s no way they could see if anything was coming the other way.

“The vehicle would have been across the other side of the road.

“When I heard the collision I got off the bike - I felt unsafe.

“When I heard the bang the Jeep was perhaps a couple of car lengths ahead of me.

“It took a few moments and I realised the man driving the car wasn’t moving.

“I checked his breathing and called 999.

“Her daughter then came over to me before the paramedics and police arrived.”

Miss Bell asked: “Based on what you have told us already, did you have any view on what you had seen - who was responsible?”

Miss Tulloch replied: “The person who overtook me.”

The court was told in a minute of agreed evidence that paramedics arrived on the scene 12 minutes after the 999 call was received from Miss Tulloch.

Adam was found unconscious, unresponsive with “obvious” fractures to his right arm and both legs.

He was airlifted to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee where medics found he had a brain injury they thought “unsurvivable”.

He was placed on life support but was found to be brain dead the following morning and his ventilator was switched off.

PC Barry Seago, of Police Scotland Fife Division’s Road Policing Unit, said Low-Mitchell had confirmed to him and a fellow officer that she was driving the Jeep Cherokee towing the horsebox at the time of the crash.

He added: “When she was cautioned she said ‘I just remember this little blue car coming very fast. There’s a bit of a hill but he seemed to be going very fast in the middle of the road’.”

Van driving Christopher Donnelly, 27, told the trial he was in a line of cars behind Low-Mitchell when the crash occurred.

He said: “I saw the larger vehicle overtaking the cyclist at the top of the hill.

“It mainly went on to the other side of the road - then there was a flash and smoke.”

Low-Mitchell of Balcormo Farm, Balcormo, Leven, Fife, denies a charge of causing death by careless driving on indictment.

The trial, before Sheriff Alistair Carmichael and a jury of 11 men and four women, continues.