Fife farmer faces jail after fatal crash

The young tractor driver admitted at the accident scene that he was at fault.
The young tractor driver admitted at the accident scene that he was at fault.

A farmer is facing jail after he admitted killing a pensioner in a horrific road smash.

Russell Graham wept in the dock at the details of the fatal smash in February this year that claimed the life of 73-year-old Catherine Armitt in Freuchie .

Graham (19) was driving a tractor towards nearby Kettlebridge when he pulled out from the junction of a minor road on the the main A92 road without stopping.

Despite the clearly marked stop sign at the junction, Graham drove straight into the path of a Ford Fiesta being driven by Mrs Armitt’s daughter, Angela Packer (48).

She tried to take evasive action and slow from 40mph – but ploughed straight into the side of the agricultural 
vehicle.

Mrs Armitt was left with fractures to her ribs, spine and sternum as well as internal injuries and died the following day.

One witness told police officers: “He drove straight across the junction – he never stopped or anything.

“I’ve been driving for 30 years and I’m 100 per cent sure the tractor driver was at fault.”

Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told Dundee Sheriff Court that the collision forced both vehicles across the road and on to a grass verge, with the tractor smashing into a lamp post.

She added: “The accused approached Angela Packer and said: “It’s all my fault; I never saw you.

“I’m awfully sorry about this.”

“Witnesses saw Ms Packer was hysterical, crying and shouting: “My mum, my mum.”

Ms Robertson told the court that the accused was shaking uncontrollably and crying.

When the police arrived he told them: “I didn’t see the car coming – I don’t know how I didn’t see it.”

Mrs Armitt, who was in the front passenger seat, said she was suffering from chest pains.

She was put in a neck brace and removed from the car, then she and her daughter were taken to Ninewells Hospital.

The court heard that Mrs Armitt was x-rayed and found to have fractures to her ribs, spine and sternum as well as bruising to her heart and lungs.

She passed away on February 19 at 6.52pm.

Ms Packer required surgery for a broken wrist and was with her mother when she died.

Graham of Raecruik Farm, Auchtermuchty, pleaded guilty on indictment to causing death by careless driving on the A92 road in Freuchie on February 18.

Defence advocate Susan Duff said: “Mr Graham and his parents have asked me to express their deepest sadness and condolences to the family of Catherine Armitt.

“He struggles on a daily basis with his feelings of guilt of having caused her death and in the immediate aftermath he couldn’t sleep alone and needed counselling to reach a level where he could cope with the level of responsibility he feels.

“He is fully aware of all the sentencing options open to the court.”

Sheriff Elizabeth Munro deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports.

She said: “You will be released on bail meantime and will be disqualified from driving in the interim.”