Day when two worlds collided and a child died

IT started as a day like any other in the Donachie household. It was a hive of activity as four-year-old Olivia was getting ready for nursery alongside her seven-year-old brother, Sam, who went to the adjoining primary school.

For proud parents Rachel and Paul, a busy house was a happy house, with two-year-old Amelie to care for and baby Isabella joining the family only a fortnight before.

But the scene in the family's detached Colinton home was in stark contrast to that which was being played out 17 miles away in Ormiston, East Lothian.

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Unemployed drug addict Daniel Jackson was slowly waking from another drug binge. Soon, the 31-year-old would top himself up with methadone and Valium before setting out for Edinburgh in his clapped-out Jeep Cherokee.

Hours later, the two worlds would collide with tragic consequences.

By 3.30pm on Wednesday, May 30, Olivia would be lying dead just yards from her front door while her mother faced the amputation of her leg as she struggled to cope with the loss of her daughter.

Jackson had spent the night at the home of his friend, David Ness, where he took around 30 valium tablets and an injection of heroin. The next morning, he set out for the Capital with Ness, where they planned to visit a clinic in Spittal Street that provides support to addicts.

Ness collected his usual prescription for methadone and Jackson was given a selection of 20 syringe-type needles.

The father of a seven-year-old boy and five-year-old twins, Jackson and his wife Michelle bought the Jeep in November last year through part exchange and a payment of 600. It had a valid MoT at the time, but was also issued with an advisory notice highlighting damaged brake discs.

Jackson was proud of his new 4x4, but the brakes began failing after about two weeks and he regularly had to top them up with fluid.

With time on their hands, Jackson decided to drive around for a day of "posing" as the drugs flowed through his system.

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The vehicle was littered with drug paraphernalia and Jackson drank contentedly from a brown bottle of methadone as streets passed hazily by.

His life had been a chaotic one, with different stepfathers as he grew up in Dalkeith, Midlothian. Daniel Jackson, also known as Blyth and Edwards, had moved to a flat in the city's Grassmarket only a few months before in a council house exchange.

He was jailed for three years in 1993 for assault and robbery, and ran up a string of theft charges in the years after his release. Without a job for a number of years, he had instead sunk deeper into addiction. His daily intake had reached 40 of heroin, 70ml of methadone and four Valium.

At around 3pm, Rachel Donachie arrived at Bonaly Primary School to collect Olivia from the adjoining nursery and hear her tales of the day's events. They picked up Sam and together set off for home in Redford Drive.

Other children were making their way back from school in the sleepy suburban part of the city, with only a few motorists passing by. It was a quiet, sunny day and the children were looking forward to tea-time when dad Paul, 39, would return from his work at the offices of investment management firm, Martin Currie.

A member of the wealthy Purves family, who have run Edinburgh-based funeral directors William Purves for more than a century, Rachel, 33, was a former intensive therapy nurse and now full-time mother.

The family were devout Christians who worshipped at Morningside Baptist Church every Sunday. Holding their mum's hand, Olivia and Sam crossed each road with care, just as they had learned in school.

Minutes away on Lanark Road, the driver of a Ford Focus waiting at a red light lurched forward in his seat. He looked back and saw the 4x4 Jeep that had run into the back of him. It was now 3.20pm.

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He got out and, as he approached the driver's window of the other vehicle, he could hear Jackson mutter his "brakes were defective".

Looking out, Jackson groggily suggested they drive further up the road to swap insurance details, but the owner of the Ford Focus was suspicious.

Straight away, he suspected the motorist had been taking drugs or drink from his slurred speech. He reached inside the Jeep to grab the keys from the ignition, but Jackson seized his hand and he dropped them. Jackson immediately scooped them up as the other motorist tried in vain to stop him.

Passers-by turned their heads as the Jeep roared off at high speed, its engine revving and tyres screeching. It raced through a red light and swerved on to the wrong side of the road.

As he accelerated, Jackson hit a second car which had slowed down on Bridge Road, before colliding head on with a Nissan Almera coming in the opposite direction. The Almera spun out of control and struck 60-year-old Irene Muir at a bus stop, spinning her against a wall. One witness would describe Jackson as driving like a "maniac".

The Jeep and the Almera were both badly damaged but again Jackson drove off and continued to speed up a hill. A passing bus driver would later tell police he thought the driver was "on a mission not to be caught".

Jackson swung the powerful car up towards Redford Drive, a residential street with a 30mph limit. Witnesses watched as the Jeep accelerated once more from 45mph to 70mph, travelling first in the middle of the road then on the wrong side.

One witness described the driver as hunched aggressively over the wheel and turning to speak to his passenger. Ness screamed at Jackson: "You better stop or you are going to hit that woman and bairn." But the driver ignored his pleas and kept "booting it on" before trying to slam on the worthless brakes.

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At 3.30pm, Rachel Donachie and her two children had been walking alongside the low wall at the front of their garden. The noise of the Jeep mounting the pavement and hitting the wall was described as like "a bomb going off".

Seconds later, Jackson and Ness emerged from the crashed vehicle bleeding from minor cuts.

Neighbours and passers-by rushed to the scene where they found Mrs Donachie conscious but with massive injuries, particularly to her left leg and foot. She had been thrown over the wall and now lay in her own garden.

Her son, Sam, was miraculously unhurt and he stood in the street, with his school bag at his side, screaming "mummy".

Jackson staggered up the street with his head in his hands as the first sense of what had happened struck home.

A group of tradesmen working on an extension to a house in Redford Drive were among the first on the scene.

Witnesses to the smash did not immediately realise the little girl had been involved as her body had been dragged under the Jeep.

It was only when one onlooker tried to open the door of the vehicle to switch the engine off that it became clear the girl had been hit.

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As they looked down at her lifeless body, they realised there was nothing they could do to help her. Poor Olivia had been killed instantly.

Along the street, Jackson stopped a woman driver and grabbed her mobile phone to try to dial 999. He grabbed another phone from a lollipop man and made another attempt to call the emergency services. His hands were shaking so much he could barely push the right buttons.

As he looked back down the street at the destruction he had caused, Jackson's next instinct was to flee. He ran up a driveway and the witnesses last saw him jumping over a fence and into a back garden.

Ness quickly downed a bottle of methadone before throwing it in a wheelie bin, but it was recovered by one of the tradesmen.

Minutes later, the first police officers would appear to find Ness standing weeping beside the damaged Jeep. He immediately told police his friend was the driver.