Drunk driver killed friend in road crash

Lee Hamilton
Lee Hamilton

A speeding drink driver killed a teenage friend in a crash after spending hours downing pints and shots at a wedding reception.

Lee Hamilton, who held only a provisional licence, lost control of his Peugeot 106 and smashed into a wall, resulting in the death of Kristoffer Brister.

Hamilton (23) was helped out of the badly-damaged vehicle after shouting for help but ran away into gardens when police turned up at the scene in Leven.

The speedometer of the crashed car was found to be locked at 69 mph following the collision at a road with a 30 mph speed limit.

A judge told Hamilton: “You have pleaded guilty to causing the death of a 19-year-old friend by driving dangerously while under the influence of alcohol, driving at excessive speed and at a time when you should not have been driving at all.”

Lord Uist told him on Thursday at the High Court in Edinburgh: “The consequences of your actions have been utterly tragic.”

Hamilton, of Den Walk, Methil, admitted causing the death of Mr Brister by driving dangerously after drinking and colliding with a wall on November 30 last year at the A915 road at Windygates Road in Leven.

He also admitted that, at the time, he was committing an offence by driving otherwise in accordance with a licence and using the vehicle while uninsured or unsecured against third-party risks.

Advocate depute Steven Borthwick told the court at the time of the incident it was dark, but street lighting was on and visibility was good.

The prosecutor said the road surface was damp and the temperature was low but there was no ice.

He said Hamilton had previously sold the car to someone else but had taken it back because of non-payment of the purchase price.

He said he continued to drive the car despite holding only a provisional licence and having no valid insurance policy in place.

Mr Borthwick said a wedding reception was held at an ex-serviceman’s club on the evening of November 29 and Hamilton had attended with his girlfriend.

He was drinking alcohol from about 7.30 p.m. on November 29 until about half past midnight 0n November 30, said the advocate depute.

He added: “The accused consumed a mixture of drinks including pints of beer and various shots of spirits.

“Bar staff present throughout the evening described him as unfit to drive following his consumption of alcohol.”

About an hour later, Hamilton was caught on camera by CCTV at a garage on Windygates Road driving the Peugeot with Mr Brister, formerly of Mountfleurie Street, Leven, as a front seat passenger.

A motorist saw the silver car passing the garage at speed.

Residents heard a loud revving engine and one witness believed it would crash because of its speed, before the sound of a collision was heard.Emergency services were alerted.

A car driver who arrived at the scene found the extensively damaged Peugeot stationary in the middle of the road.

Hamilton, who was shouting for help, was freed from the car but Mr Brister appeared either dead or unconscious.

Mr Borthwick said: “The car appeared to have mounted the pavement, struck the boundary wall of a private premises head on, causing a large amount of damage to the vehicle, and rotating the vehicle by 90 degrees.”

The passenger’s body was recovered from the wreckage and the cause of death was established as a chest injury from the road traffic incident.

He was found to have sustained a large number of injuries.

The advocate depute said: “The medical opinion is the deceased was killed outright in the collision.”

A call was later made to the ambulance service over a man who had reportedly suffered injuries in a fall and, when police turned up at the house in Methil, they saw Hamilton being put into the back of an ambulance.

As he was taken to Victoria Hospital, in Kirkcaldy, he said to a paramedic and a police officer: “I was driving a car that crashed into a wall.”

After he was detained he said: “I cannae believe it.”

He was found to have a broken heel and broken bones in his other foot, cuts and bruises and a wound to his head was stitched and stapled.

Defence counsel Ronnie Renucci said unemployed Hamilton accepted that a prison sentence was “inevitable”.

He said Mr Brister was a close friend of Hamilton and added: “He has asked me to publicly apologise to Mr Brister’s family for his actions that night.”

Lord Uist deferred sentence on Hamilton for the preparation of a background report.