‘Sleeping’ Livingston Sofology driver cleared of head-on smash blame

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A delivery driver seen slumped over the wheel shortly before he caused a head-on crash which left a woman with career-ending injuries has been cleared of dangerous driving.

Sofology driver Jordan Whyte told victim Shannon Batt he had fallen asleep before drifting into the opposing carriageway and hitting her car at high speed.

Jordan Whyte leaves court. Pic: Perthshire Picture Agency

Jordan Whyte leaves court. Pic: Perthshire Picture Agency

But Whyte - who also hit a second oncoming car - was cleared after a sheriff ruled the Crown had failed to prove he had been sleeping at the time.

Whyte - whose delivery colleague Thomas Davidson, 20, was asleep in the passenger seat - had the dangerous driving charge not proven at Perth Sheriff Court.

The court heard they were over eight hours into a shift delivering sofas around Scotland when the crash happened on the A9 Pitlochry to Perth road near Dunkeld.

Shannon Batt, 20, told the trial: “I was driving along and the car in front of me swerved into a layby and that alerted me. Then I saw a Mercedes van on my side of the road.

Shannon Batt leaves court.' Pic:  Perthshire Picture Agency

Shannon Batt leaves court.' Pic: Perthshire Picture Agency

“I tried to swerve out the way. It was a car’s length away. The driver was looking down towards their feet. I could only see the top of their head.

“The van hit the driver’s side of my car. It was all a bit of a blur. When I next opened my eyes I was facing across the road, the side of the car was smashed and the windscreen was smashed, and there was blood everywhere.

“I panicked and tried to get out the driver’s side but the damage was too bad and I couldn’t get the door open. Some people came and helped me get out the passenger side. They dragged me.

“I’ve still got glass in my arm. I’ve got really bad nerve damage and scars and because of this I have lost my career as a hairdresser.”

Thomas Davidson said they had started work in Bathgate at 6am and had delivered sofas in Aberdeen before heading back when the crash happened around 2pm on 29 November 2017.

He said he had fallen asleep after letting Whyte take over the driving and was woken by “a loud bang” when his colleague struck the first vehicle.

Whyte, 26, of Mossbank, Livingston, admitted he could not remember the moments before the crash and telling Miss Batt “I think I fell asleep.”

He experienced a blackout later that night and again the following morning and believed he had suffered a blackout while driving the van.

Whyte said he had undergone numerous medical tests, but they had been inconclusive and he had not suffered any similar blackouts since and had his driving licence restored.

Fiscal depute Matthew Kerr said: “I submit that the court is entitled to draw the inference that the accused was asleep at the wheel. There is nothing in the medical records to show he was unconscious, as opposed to asleep, beyond the accused’s word.”

Sheriff Gillian Wade found the charge not proven and said: “I found this a very difficult case to deal with.

“The Crown must prove beyond reasonable doubt you were asleep and did not suffer a blackout. I am unable to say I’m satisfied the charge is proved beyond reasonable doubt.”

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