Man with girlfriend on knee hit pensioner with car

Nathaniel Cooper was teaching his girlfriend to drive when the car struck a caravan. Picture: Newsline

Nathaniel Cooper was teaching his girlfriend to drive when the car struck a caravan. Picture: Newsline

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A MAN has been found guilty of causing a pensioner’s death by driving dangerously – with his girlfriend sitting on his knee.

Nathaniel Cooper, 30, was teaching Kylie Johnston how to drive when they lost control of his Daihatsu Terios and crashed at the East Balthangie campsite, near Turriff in Aberdeenshire.

“I’ve never ever driven in my life, so it was scary for me. I didn’t know what to do.”

Kylie Johnston

The 4x4 ploughed into the side of Andrew MacKay’s static caravan and knocked him down, leaving him fatally injured.

Cooper, from Inverbervie, was yesterday found guilty of causing the pensioner’s death following a five-day trial at the High Court in Aberdeen.

The court heard Johnston had been sitting on Cooper’s knee when the tragedy happened.

The father of two was showing his partner how to steer the vehicle and operate the pedals as they drove down a lane leading to the holiday park entrance on 21 July, 2013.

Giving evidence, Johnston, 26, told the court: “He said ‘Come and sit on my knee. I’ll teach you how to drive’.

“He showed me how to put my foot down on the clutch and the accelerator lightly, that’s what he told me to do and it stalled three times.”

The young mother, who is 4ft 11in tall, said she could reach the pedals only when she slid down the seat.

She said: “I’ve never ever driven in my life, so it was scary for me. I didn’t know what to do.”

Johnston, from Stonehaven, claimed Cooper had grabbed the steering wheel after the car veered too close to the campsite toilet block and said the car went out of control.

“I was trying to find the brake and remember what he had told me,” she said.

The 4x4 accelerated, crashed through a fence then struck Mr MacKay who had popped outside for some fresh air because he had been cutting onions while preparing dinner.

The 65-year-old, who regularly stayed at his holiday home with his partner of 23 years, Mary Dobbin, was discovered lying face down on the ground with his upper body trapped by the caravan chassis.

Ms Dobbin, 58, who lives in Dumbarton, was left trapped inside their holiday home and could not get out until she was rescued from the caravan, which had moved off its stance.

It took paramedics 20 minutes to arrive at the rural campsite and Mr MacKay was freed by the emergency services but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Johnston had already pleaded guilty in January to the charge of dangerous driving.

Yesterday, Lord Stewart said: “This has been a difficult case for all involved.

“The word tragedy is rather too frequently used, but this case seems to be to be a real tragedy.”

The jury of eight men and seven woman took just over an hour to find Cooper guilty.

Johnston told the court she accepted responsibility but insisted that they were both to blame.

Lord Stewart deferred sentence for background reports until 8 May at the High Court in Glasgow.

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