Teenager’s ‘ridiculous’ speeding move led to death of friend

Dale Whillans, a talented footballer. was a front-seat passenger in the car crash on the Hawick to Jedburgh road last year. Picture: Police Scotland

Dale Whillans, a talented footballer. was a front-seat passenger in the car crash on the Hawick to Jedburgh road last year. Picture: Police Scotland

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A teenage motorist’s dangerous driving led to the death of a friend after he lost control of his car following “ridiculous” speeding, a court has heard.

Aaron Murphy overtook a line of traffic in unsafe conditions before his Seat Ibiza mounted a verge, hit a road sign and rolled into a field.

His front-seat passenger and former schoolmate Dale Whillans was so seriously injured that he died after the crash on a Borders road.

First offender Murphy was aged 18 at the time of the incident, which claimed the life of talented footballer Mr Whillans who was also 18 and an only child.

Murphy’s defence counsel Ronnie Renucci told the High Court in Edinburgh: “I am instructed on behalf of Aaron Murphy to apologise on his behalf at the first public opportunity that he has had.”

He added: “I am instructed to express his deep regret and sorrow at the death of someone who was his friend, Dale Whillans.”

Judge Lady Wolffe said: “This is indeed a very tragic case.”

Murphy, now 19, of Braid Road, Hawick, admitted causing the death of Mr Whillans by driving dangerously on the A698 Hawick to Jedburgh road on 6 April last year.

He drove at excessive speed and crossed on to the other side of the road when it was unsafe and lost control of the vehicle which he had acquired 12 days earlier.

Advocate depute Keith O’Mahony told the court that Murphy had performed 
an overtaking manoeuvre to pass several vehicles at a 
location where it was unsafe to do so.

The prosecutor said: “The accused and the deceased were well known to each other. They had the same group of friends and had been schoolmates at both primary and secondary school.”

On the day of the incident they and others had decided to drive in two cars from Hawick to Berwick upon Tweed. After passing through the village of Denholm they caught up with a queue of four vehicles.

They reached the Timpendean straight but oncoming traffic initially ruled out 
overtaking. But once the last of the oncoming vehicles had passed the first of their cars pulled out to pass the traffic ahead with Murphy following in his Seat.

Mr O’Mahony said the noise of the vehicles accelerating caught the attention of witnesses and one thought they were travelling at more than 70mph.

He said: “Other witnesses confirm the accused was travelling in excess of the speed limit with one witness describing his speed as ‘ridiculous’.”

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