Six months detention for teenage farmer in fatal road crash

Dundee Sheriff Court
Dundee Sheriff Court

A farmer who killed a pensioner in a horror road smash following what another motorist called a “dangerous and reckless” manouevre was today (Wednesday) sentenced to six months detention.

Russell Graham had previously admitted causing the death of 73-year-old Catherine Armitt in Freuchie in February last year.

Russell Graham.  Pic: Alan Richardson

Russell Graham. Pic: Alan Richardson

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

Despite the clearly marked stop sign at the junction Graham drove straight his New Holland tractor 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 bruising to her heart and lungs and died the following day from her injuries.

A sheriff told Graham: “This fell not far short of dangerous driving.”

Members of both Graham’s and Mrs Armitt’s family wept as the 19-year-old was sentenced at Dundee Sheriff Court.

The court had previously heard that one witness told cops at the scene of the crash: “He drove straight across the junction - he never stopped or anything. I’ve been driving for 30 years and I’m 100 percent sure the tractor driver was at fault. He came flying out - it was dangerous and reckless.”

Graham’s lawyer said he had been badly affected by the crash and had been for counselling as a result.

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 said: “The accused approached Angela Packer and said ‘it’s all my fault, I never saw you, I’m awfully sorry about this’.

“Witnesses saw Angela Packer was hysterical, crying and shouting ‘my mum, my mum’.

“The accused was shaking uncontrollably and crying.

“Police attended and he told them ‘I didn’t see the car coming - I don’t know how I didn’t see it’.

“Mrs Armitt was in the front passenger seat and said she was suffering from chest pains.

“She was put in a neck brace and removed from the car.

“She and her daughter were taken to Ninewells Hospital.

“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.

“The cause of death was chest or neck injuries following a road traffic collision.

“Angela Packer required surgery for a broken wrist.

“She was with her mother when she passed away.”

Graham (19), of Raecruik Farm, Auchtermuchty, had previously pleaded guilty on indictment to causing death by careless driving on the A92 road in Freuchie on February 18, 2015.

Defence advocate Susan Duff said: “He and his family have asked me to express their deepest condolences to Mrs Armitt’s family.

“The circumstances of her death have almost overwhelmed him.”

She added: “There are two families whose lives have been changed forever by this accident and if Russell Graham could change what happened, he would in an instant.

“He will live with this for the rest of his life and he knows his actions took Mrs Armitt away from her loving family.

“He is a decent young man who made a very bad momentary error of judgement.”

Sheriff Elizabeth Munro sentenced Graham to six months and banned him from the road for three years.