Not proven verdict in fatal crash

editorial image

An award winning horse breeder has been found not proven of causing death by careless driving – despite four eyewitnesses telling a jury she was on the wrong side of the road at the time of the collision.

Jacqueline Low-Mitchell (83) stood trial accused of killing Adam Maxwell in the crash on the A916 near Craighrothie in November 2013.

The 83-year-old was alleged to have been straddling both lanes as she approached a blind crest, colliding with Mr Maxwell’s Vauxhall Nova.

Police collision investigators found she had been approximately 40 centimetres into the wrong lane when the accident happened, but Mrs Low-Mitchell denied that she had caused the crash by overtaking a cyclist as she approached a blind crest on the rural road - and instead said Mr Maxwell had been in the middle of the road.

Giving evidence in her own defence during her trial at Dundee Sheriff Court, Mrs Low-Mitchell said there had been a “loud bang” when her Jeep Cherokee and Adam’s Vauxhall Nova collided.

She said: “I wasn’t able to avoid the collision.”

Fiscal depute Vicki Bell told the jury: “Had the accused been in her own lane would this collision have occurred? No.”

And questioning Mrs Low-Mitchell during the case, Miss Bell said: “The cyclist thought the person driving the Jeep was an idiot for overtaking her on that hill. She said that was because you couldn’t see anything coming the other way.”

Mrs Low-Mitchell replied: “I can see where she is coming from. But I don’t think I was responsible. In my opinion I had completed my manouevre and was back on my side of the road.”

Crash investigator PC Ian Gemmell earlier told the court that it was his opinion the “primary factor” in the crash was Mrs Low-Mitchell having executed an overtake on the approach to a blind crest.

PC Gemmell said: “The main cause is the position of the vehicle on the opposing lane. It would appear that the overtake may have been completed in that she has passed the obstruction and was in the process of returning to her own side of the road.”

The court was earlier told that paramedics arrived on the scene 12 minutes after the 999 call was received from the cyclist Mrs Low-Mitchell had overtaken.

Mr Maxwell was found unconscious, unresponsive with “obvious” fractures to his right arm and both legs. He was airlifted to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee where medics found he had a brain injury they thought “unsurvivable”.

He was placed on life support but was found to be brain dead the following morning and his ventilator was switched off.

A jury of 10 men and four women took one and a half hours to return a not proven verdict by majority.

Sheriff Alistair Carmichael told Mrs Low-Mitchell she was free to leave the dock.