13 years for maniac who killed Olivia
A "MANIAC" driver who killed a four-year-old girl in a hit-and-run crash while high on drugs was sentenced to 13 years in prison today.
• Read the judge's comments in fullDaniel Jackson, 31, had sped away from two earlier crashes, his tyres "smoking and squealing", before mounting the pavement hitting Olivia Donachie and her mother as they walked home from nursery.
The youngster suffered horrific injuries and was killed instantly, just yards from the family's home in Redford Drive, Colinton.
Her 33-year-old mother Rachel was seriously injured and later had to have her left leg amputated below the knee.
Drug addict Jackson, a married father-of-three who lived in the Grassmarket, last month admitted a charge of culpable homicide on May 30.
Jackson's vehicle - which police described as being in the worst condition they had ever seen - was so dangerous he wouldn't let his wife Michelle drive it.
Sentencing Jackson at the High Court in Glasgow today, Lord Menzies said: "What possessed you to do the awful things you did in the quiet residential streets of Colinton? You drove your Jeep in a furious, dangerous and wholly irresponsible manner apparently without any thought or consideration for pedestrians or other road users."
Olivia's dad Paul Donachie said afterwards he hoped the sentence would help prevent similar tragedies from happening again.
He said: "I can only hope that this sentence will help to deter other drivers who may otherwise choose to drive in such a reckless way under the influence of drink or drugs.
"I would like to thank Lothian and Borders Police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for their professionalism and compassion during what has been a very stressful time for our family.
"We are also very grateful to relatives, friends, medical staff and the local community for their continuing kindness and support."
Lord Menzies described the trail of mayhem left behind by Jackson, who had taken a cocktail of drugs, including morphine, the heroin substitute methadone and diazepam. He said: "You caused a series of accidents and near accidents, you collided with other cars and caused injury to their drivers and to pedestrians on the pavement; you drove on the wrong side of the road; you drove through traffic lights when they were red against you; you drove at speeds that were grossly excessive and well over the legal speed limit. You drove as if you were on a racing track rather than on the narrow streets, busy with pedestrians and vehicular traffic.
"You were involved in a head-on collision with another car, causing injury to the driver of that car and to a passing pedestrian, each of whom required hospital treatment. You caused a bus and lorry to pull in and swerve to avoid you.
"Your tyres were squealing and your car was tilted to one side. It is little wonder that several onlookers described you as driving as if you were being chase by the police and that you were driving like a maniac. You were driving like a maniac."
Lord Menzies said that Olivia and her mum "weren't on the roadway, but where they should have been safe, on the pavement."
He added: "The hearts of all right-thinking members of society must surely go out to the whole of the Donachie family for the terrible wrongs you have inflected on them."
Jackson had previous convictions for robbery, assault and theft.
Inspector John Beresford of Lothian and Borders Police also welcomed the tough sentence, and thanked everyone involved in an "extremely difficult and harrowing enquiry". He paid tribute to the Donachie family for their dignity.
"Daniel Jackson's actions were both criminally reckless and showed a total disregard for the safety of the public.
"He chose to drive his Jeep motorcar whilst under the influence of drugs and knowing full well that there were significant problems with the braking system. After being involved in two collisions of increasing severity, he chose to drive on in a reckless and dangerous manner. Eventually he lost control of the jeep and it collided with Olivia and Rachel Donachie with tragic consequences. By driving his vehicle at speed and in such a terrible state of repair his actions can only be described as criminal and the sentence today reflects that.
"This should send an extremely strong message to all road users who may consider driving whilst under the influence of drugs, those who fail to maintain their vehicles to the required standard and those who drive with utter disregard for the safety of the public."
Jackson was arrested three days after the crash at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, after turning himself in with slashed wrists.
Detectives said they believed he had faked a suicide attempt in a bid to attract "sympathy" from the authorities.
He told a doctor at the hospital: "I have done something bad" and added: "I killed a little girl."
While he was in a police cell he said: "I deserve life for what I have done- a life for a life.". He added: "I deserve everything I get."
After fleeing the scene, Jackson took refuge in the homes of friends in Dalkeith, who supplied him with drugs. Police believe he went on shoplifting raids to fund the massive binge.
Earlier, advocate depute Dorothy Bain QC told the court that an expert said the condition of the Jeep driven by the accused was the worst he had ever examined in his 10 years of working in this field.
"The Jeep was in poor condition and unsafe to drive and this should have been obvious to the driver. The Jeep simply had no footbrakes whatsoever," said the prosecutor.
Scientists later carried out tests on blood taken from Jackson and found the cocktail of drugs in his system. He told police that he had an almost daily intake of 40 of heroin, 70 mls of methadone and four Valium pills.
Olivia's death shocked the quiet community of Colinton. She was described as a "lively, fun and affectionate little girl" and a "wonderful daughter". She went to a nursery attached to Bonaly Primary School.
Mrs Donachie and her husband Paul, 39, have three other children, Samuel, seven, Amelia, two, and Isabella, who was born two weeks before the crash.
Mrs Donachie formerly worked as an intensive therapy nurse and her husband works with an investment firm.
Although Rachel suffered life-threatening injuries, a doctor said "in his view her physical injuries pale into insignificance when one considers the devastating emotional trauma she has incurred through the loss of her daughter".
SNP vow to tackle Scots re-offending rates
JUSTICE Secretary Kenny MacAskill today vowed to tackle Scotland's "unacceptable" re-offending rates.
He promised a new focus on community sentences after figures showed nearly two-thirds of people coming out of prison offended again within two years.
Statistics published by the Scottish Government showed 22 per cent of offenders released from prison or given a custodial sentence in 2003/04 were reconvicted within six months, 33 per cent within one year and 45 per cent within two years.
Among those who had served a custodial sentence, the reconviction rate was 64 per cent within two years.
But among those sentenced to community service, the reconviction rate was 39 per cent - down from 49 per cent eight years earlier.
Mr MacAskill said: "This report helps to demonstrate the challenge this Government faces in achieving a progressive and coherent penal policy.
"Nearly two thirds of people released from prison were reconvicted within two years. That is not acceptable.
"I believe that the time is now right for a more focussed approach to the community disposals available to the courts. That is why we are currently reviewing community sentences to revitalise them. We want tough community sentences to protect the public and improve reparation and rehabilitation for persistent offenders."
In Edinburgh and Midlothian, the area covered by Edinburgh Sheriff Court, 20 per cent of offenders - both those sentenced to community service and those released from custody - were reconvicted within six months.
Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken described today's figures as "appalling" and said the previous Labour-Liberal Democrat administration should be ashamed.
He said: "If only we could take comfort from the fact that there is a new government, but all the signs so far are that the SNP wants to jail even fewer people."
• Read the judge's comments in full
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