Death driver unsuccesfully uses Harry Clarke defence

A motorist has been convicted of dangerous driving after trying to use the same defence as Harry Clarke, pictured. Picture: Getty Images
A motorist has been convicted of dangerous driving after trying to use the same defence as Harry Clarke, pictured. Picture: Getty Images
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A businessman who used the same defence as Glasgow bin lorry driver Harry Clarke has been convicted of killing a pensioner by dangerous driving.

Vincent Friel, 44, claimed he fainted at the wheel of his Range Rover moments before the vehicle hit Charlotte Collins, 68, at a pedestrian crossing in Glasgow.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Ms Collins and her cousin Margaret Haldane, 69, were struck by the 4x4 close to the Glasgow’s Silverburn shopping centre.

Ms Collins, who lived in the city’s Pollok area, died in hospital shortly after the January 2014 incident on Barrhead Road. Her London-based relative needed emergency treatment.

Friel – who owns a property letting business - was taking blood pressure medication at the time of the collision.

He was also taking Viagra and medicine to take away headaches that were brought on by having sex.

His lawyers claimed the combined medicine caused his blood pressure to drop to such a low level as to cause him to faint.

Top defence QC Iain Duguid told jurors that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Friel because he wasn’t in control of his actions at the time of the incident.

Cardiologist Dr Andrew Flapan told the court the he thought it was “extremely unlikely” that Friel fainted at the wheel of his car.

A jury of nine women and six men spent one hour and 40 minutes to reject his defence on Wednesday.

The jurors returned guilty verdicts to charges of causing the death of Ms Collins and the serious injury of Ms Haldane by driving dangerously.

Temporary judge John Morris QC deferred sentence for the court to obtain reports about the first offender’s character.

But he warned Friel, of Rutherglen, Glasgow, to expect prison.

He added: “A custodial sentence is inevitable.”

Friel’s rejected defence was similar to the one used by controversial council worker Harry Clarke.

The Glasgow City Council employee drove the lorry which crashed in the city’s George Square in December 2014.

Clarke was diagnosed with Vasovagal syndrome after he reported blacking whilst working as a bus driver in April 2010.

Friel will be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on March 16 2016.