Van driver found guilty after death crash

Andrew Reilly causing the death of Mrs Thom by dangerous driving.
Andrew Reilly causing the death of Mrs Thom by dangerous driving.

A van driver who caused the death of a mother-of-three after overtaking approaching a blind crest in the road was locked up today.

Andrew Reilly made no attempt to brake or steer to avoid the head-on collision with a car in which Audrey Thom was a passenger coming towards him, a court heard.

The driver of the car, Mrs Thom’s daughter Louise, was confronted with Reilly’s van heading directly at her on her side of the road.

Advocate depute Adrian Cottam said: “Louise Thom was unable to take evasive action as there were trees on the left hand side of the road and another vehicle in the carriageway on the right.”

The prosecutor told the High Court in Edinburgh: “As she stated she had in effect ‘nowhere to go’.”

The car driver had just enough time to brake hard but the crash still occurred on the A914 Balmullo to Dairsie roundabout road in Fife.

Emergency services took Miss Thom (27) and her 58-year-old mother to hospital but the older woman’s condition worsened and she later died.

Mr Cottam said police investigating the collision concluded that Reilly had made a decision to carry out a late overtaking manoeuvre as he approached and got to solid white lines on the road and drove onto the opposite side of the road.

The prosecutor said they also concluded: “For an unknown reason he did not see, or ignored, the warning arrows and the solid white lines prohibiting from overtaking.”

They also reached the view that Reilly either did not see or did not react to the sight of Miss Thom’s headlights until it was too late to avoid the collision.

Reilly (29) of Palais Court, Dundee, admitted causing the death of Mrs Thom by driving the van dangerously on November 24 in 2015.

He failed to observe road markings, drove onto the opposite side of the road at the blind crest of a hill and overtook into the path of the oncoming car.

The court heard that the plumbing and heating engineer had previous convictions for driving without insurance and speeding.

Before the fatal collision a motorist had become aware of the Renault Traffic van driven by Reilly right behind her and described it as being “too close for me to be comfortable”.

She had anticipated the van overtaking her but it did not and they continued along a straight stretch of road heading out of Balmullo.

As she approached the peak in the road she became aware of car headlights coming towards her and later realised the van had pulled out to pass her.

After the crash Reilly went to the car to enquire if the occupants were okay and Miss Thom, who had been driving her mother home to Balmullo, told him to call an ambulance.

Mr Cottam said that in the immediate aftermath of the crash there did not appear to be any apparent medical risk to the lives of Miss Thom or her mother and Reilly’s details were noted and he was allowed to leave the scene having confirmed he was the driver of the van.

The prosecutor said Mrs Thom was in general good health but suffered from a condition called Kyphoscoliosis which could cause her respiratory problems.

He said that when seen at accident and emergency at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee Mrs Thom’s injuries were “not obviously life threatening”.She had fractures along with bruising in her colon and left lung.

But her condition deteriorated and surgery was carried out to repair a cut artery. She later began to have breathing difficulties which impacted on her heart function and later died on November 26.

The cause of death was recorded as complications of chest and abdominal trauma following a road collision and Kyphoscoliosis.

Michael O’Grady QC deferred sentence on Reilly for the preparation of a social enquiry report on him. The judge said: “Clearly in a matter as grave as this I require to obtain background reports before proceeding to sentence.”

Defence counsel Matt Jackson will address the court in mitigation next month ahead of sentencing. He told the judge he had instructions not to apply for bail. Reilly was remanded in custody.