A DRINK driver who caused a ‘tragic” fatal accident which destroyed the lives of a newly-wed couple was jailed for four years today.
Dundee businessman Russell McKeever lost control of his powerful Audi A6 and ploughed head-on into Colin Taylor’s Citroen Picasso, killing him and the family’s pet terrier Kola who was beside him.
Mr Taylor’s wife Julie – who was travelling in the back seat because she was a “nervous passenger” – was trapped in the wreckage beside her dead husband.
Although she survived the crash she suffered terrible physical and mental injuries, the High Court at Livingston was told.
As she was comforted by members of her family outside court, Mrs Taylor said she was ”very upset” by the outcome.
She added: “We’re all disappointed that it wasn’t enough of a sentence.”
In addition to the prison term, McKeever, 42, who already had nine penalty points on his licence, was disqualified from driving for six years and eight months and ordered to pass the extended driving test.
Judge Lord Armstrong said a victim impact statement provided by Mrs Taylor had been “eloquent in its terms”.
He said the couple had got married just a short time before the crash after spending 30 years together as life partners.
Mr Taylor, 59, had died instantly from “massive, unsurvivable injuries” and Julie suffered broken bones in every limb and had to undergo more than 12 hours of surgery.
Mrs Taylor suffered a catalogue of injuries including broken arms and legs. She now walks with a stick, still takes painkillers every day and is tormented by flashbacks and nightmares.
She has since been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and will suffer the physical and mental effects of her injuries for the rest of her life.
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Lord Turnbull told McKeever he recognised from testimonial letters that he was a respected member of the local community and was assessed as at low risk of re-offending.
However, he added: “Having regard to the criminal culpability in this case I have come to the conclusion that there is no alternative to a custodial disposal.”
At an earlier hearing, the court was told earlier that McKeever had been at a pub in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, for a noon lunch with his ex-wife and her friend.
He had one glass of wine in the pub, but went back to the friend’s home after stopping at a supermarket to buy more alcohol.
By the time he left the friend’s house – abruptly and without any explanation – McKeever was drunk.
At around 3pm he told his companions he was going out to his car to get a brochure, then drove away.
Yesterday Chris Fyffe, defending, claimed his client had been subjected to threats of violence as a result of a problematic business relationship.
He told the court: “He took fright when he saw a vehicle he recognised driving close to the house. This contributed to his decision to get into that car.”
He said the father of three was filled with “genuine remorse” and regret and had not driven since the incident despite being on bail until he pleaded guilty on December 7 to causing Mr Taylor’s death by drink driving.
“Perhaps one of the most telling comments is his common empathy for the family. He highlights they pain they must be going through and says he would feel the same if it was his brother or relative.”
McKeever went to the same hospital as Mrs Taylor with an injured shoulder and a cut that needed a couple of stitches.
He was already under arrest. He had told emergency workers at the scene that he had drunk “f****** loads”.
He was described as being “obstructive” in hospital. And when he was tested at 7.14pm – four hours after the crash – he gave an alcohol reading of 226. The limit at the time was 80.
McKeever, who ran a string of building and home improvement companies, was allowed to remain free on bail until his case came to court in December last year.
His prison sentence was backdated until December 7.