Marshal ‘screamed at’ for trying to stop rally before crash

A screengrab from a video taken at a different Snowman Rally. Marshal John Clayton told a fatal accident inquiry that he was 'screamed at' for trying to stop the 2013 race. Picture: Contributed
A screengrab from a video taken at a different Snowman Rally. Marshal John Clayton told a fatal accident inquiry that he was 'screamed at' for trying to stop the 2013 race. Picture: Contributed
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A rally marshal has told a fatal accident inquiry how fans “screamed” at him when he tried to stop the race because he thought conditions at the circuit were too dangerous.

John Clayton, 72, told the inquiry how he wanted the February 2013 Snowman Rally halted because he was concerned that motorsport enthusiasts were standing too close to the circuit.

But Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard yesterday how supporters did not react well to Mr Clayton’s actions which came moments before a vehicle struck and killed Joy Robson, 51.

Mr Clayton, from Mull, told Crown lawyer Andrew Brown QC that he was concerned about the large number of people attending the rally.

The inquiry heard that Mr Clayton wanted proceedings at Drumnadrochit stopped in order to keep enthusiasts who were standing at “inappropriate locations” safe.

He told Edinburgh Sheriff Court: “That’s why after 20 minutes I called it off. We did not have an incident at that point. But I felt as if I couldn’t handle it. It isn’t the easiest thing to do.”

When Mr Brown asked Mr Clayton whether people were “screaming” at him, Mr Clayton replied: “Yes they were. And at other events people are screaming at you because you are spoiling their fun.”

Mr Clayton was giving evidence at a joint Fatal Accident Inquiry which is examining the circumstances of Ms Robson’s death in the Highlands four-years-ago.

The inquiry is also examining the circumstances surrounding the deaths of three other motorsports fans at a separate event in Scotland - the Jim Clark rally, near Coldstream in the Borders in 2014.

The inquiry heard how Mr Clayton was one of two marshals at a hairpin bend near where Ms Robson was struck by a vehicle being driven by 31-year-old Graeme Schoneville.

He asked for the rally to be stopped because he was concerned about the number of spectators arriving at the location.

Mr Clayton told Mr Brown, the advocate depute, that he contacted the rally stage manager to convey his request.

He told the inquiry that he did this because people were standing in locations which he thought were unsafe.

He added: “I felt it was getting too dangerous. I was not happy with how things were developing.”

The inquiry heard that Mr Clayton’s request to stop the stage resulted in cars that had not started being stopped immediately. There were six cars heading for the hairpin.

The car which crashed was the fourth vehicle. Mr Clayton said he heard a “bang bang” and saw the car spiralling up in the air.

The inquiry heard that the car went over the top of small trees which were 10-15ft high before losing momentum and heading straight down.

The inquiry heard that people were running in all directions.

Mr Clayton told Mr Brown that following the collision involving Ms Robson, he helped a police inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

He said: “I gave a statement to the police. I spent about two hours in a police car speaking to officers back at the car park.”

Mr Clayton told the inquiry that the incident had left event organisers traumatised.

He added: “I think everybody was in so much shock.”

The inquiry, which is being heard before Sheriff Kenneth Maciver QC, continues.