Fatal crash driver spared jail

Adam Docherty. Lesley Donald Photography.
Adam Docherty. Lesley Donald Photography.

A motorist from Kennoway who fell asleep at the wheel seconds before a tragic fatal crash was today (Wednesday) spared a jail sentence.

A judge told Adam Docherty: “It is probably not going too far to say your life has been shattered by the physical and psychological injuries which you have had to endure since the accident.”

Lord Uist said that in his opinion he had already been punished by what he had had to suffer.

The judge told Docherty at the High Court in Edinbugh that he had accepted full responsibility for the “terrible” event, that he thought about it every day and had shown great remorse.

He said Docherty had fallen asleep “due to lack of proper rest in the proceeding 24 hours”.

Lord Uist said justice did not require that Docherty be sent to prison and placed him on probation for two years.

The judge said: “Although you are clearly incapable of driving I am obliged to disqualify you from driving and I shall therefore do so for a period of three years.”

Docherty was “seriously sleep deprived” when his car crossed to the opposite side of the road and collided with another vehicle killing its driver George Izatt, who was from Methil.

Docherty (28) was holding down two jobs and also helping with Army cadets at the time of the incident on August 22 in 2010.

Advocate depute Andrew Brown QC told the court that Docherty was “a hardworking and positive member of society”.

But he added: “Regrettably his work ethic played a part in the present offence.”

Docherty, of Denvale Gardens, Kennoway, earlier admitted causing the death of Mr Izatt (54) who was driving back from a fishing trip, by careless driving on the A92 Glenrothes to Dundee road when he fell asleep and crossed central warning lines before the collision. The passengers in Mr Izatt’s car, Jason Farmer, William Scott and Charles Williams, were seriously hurt in the crash.

Docherty, who appeared in court with crutches, was also badly injured and his passenger and cousin, Patrick Docherty, was also hurt.

A previous attempt to run legal proceedings in the case was halted when Docherty repeatedly fell asleep in the dock. It was established that this was because of pain-killing medication he was prescribed.

Docherty later told police: “I have no recollection of it. All I remember is leaving work, drop my mate off in Glenrothes. I went to Methil to pick up my cousin. Then went to Asda in Glenrothes. The last thing I mind was leaving Asda in Glenrothes.”

He was a joiner at the time and also worked as a part-time bar supervisor at a nightclub, as well as helping with the cadets.

He had been at the Barry Buddon camp in Angus and did a shift at the club into the early hours of August 22 before driving a workmate home.

He then collected his cousin and they went to the store before setting off towards Dundee to return to the camp.

The court heard that Docherty’s cousin had no concerns about him or his driving at that stage. He remembered seeing a road sign saying the village of Freuchie was a mile away when he fell asleep.

Mr Izatt, of Kirkland Walk, Methil, was driving home with his friends in a careful way which was said to be his normal mode of driving.

About 5.35a.m. two of the passengers in his car saw headlights coming straight towards them. Patrick Docherty also remembered waking up and realising that his cousin’s MG was on the wrong side of the road.

He described Docherty as sitting upright with his head tipped to the right and shouted: “Adam get up. Adam there’s a car.” The impact followed with all witnesses losing consciousness.

Mr Brown said: “From the road layout it is apparent that the accused fell asleep only seconds before the collision.”

Passersby went to the aid of the crash victims and when emergency services attended it was apparent that Mr Izatt had sustained fatal injuries. He died as a result of multiple serious internal injuries.

A sleep expert consulted by the Crown described Docherty as “seriously sleep deprived”, but thought the timing of the incident was significant as it occurred close to the lowest point of alertness when it is especially difficult to resist involuntary sleep.

Defence counsel Frances Connor said Docherty had asked her to express his distress and remorse at the devastating consequences not just for Mr Izatt, but for all the others involved in the crash.

“It is, and has always been, his principle concern,” she said and added: “He is entirely pre-occupied by the devastating effect on others.”

Ms Connor said the tragic case involved “momentary inattention”. She said: “I would ask My Lord to consider a sentence which would not require him to spend time in custody.”

She asked Lord Uist to consider dealing with the case by way of probation “given the suffering he has already endured”.

The defence counsel said it was “an absolutely tragic case”.