Jail for drink driver who killed a friend

Lee Hamilton
Lee Hamilton

A speeding drink driver who killed a teenage friend in a crash, after spending hours downing pints and shots at a wedding reception, was jailed on Friday for four years and eight months.

Lee Hamilton, who held only a provisional licence, lost control of his Peugeot 106 and smashed into a wall in Leven, resulting in the death of Kristoffer Brister (19).

Hamilton (23) was helped out of the badly-damaged vehicle after shouting for assistance – but ran away into gardens when police turned up.

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

A judge told Hamilton: “ Regrettably, this is not the only case to come before this court where a young driver’s dangerous driving has resulted in the loss of another young life.”

Lord Uist said at the High Court in Edinburgh: “This is a tragic case, as are all such cases.”

The judge said nothing he could say or do would undo “the terrible consequences” of Hamilton’s decision to drive a car.

He said on the previous evening, Hamilton had consumed alcohol, consisting of beer and spirits, over a period of about five hours to the extent he was physically sick.

“You had therefore had a considerable amount to drink and should not have been driving a car. Another reason you should not have driven a car was you held only a provisional licence and were not insured,” he added.

The judge accepted Hamilton had shown genuine remorse but said the journey he had undertaken was “a wholly unnecessary one”.

He was also banned from driving for six years and eight months and until he passes a test.

Hamilton, of Den Walk, Methil, earlier 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. 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 said 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.

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

He was drinking alcohol from about 7.30 p.m. that night until about half past midnight on 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 the accused as unfit to drive following his consumption of alcohol.”

About an hour after the wedding reception, 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 suspected it would crash

owing to 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 and 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 incident.

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

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

A call was later made to the ambulance service about a man who had reportedly suffered injuries in a fall.

When police turned up at the house in Methil, they saw Hamilton being put into an ambulance.

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 earlier said unemployed Hamilton accepted a prison sentence was “inevitable”.

He said: “He is acutely aware of the impact his actions have had on Mr Brister’s family.”