Drink driver admits causing death of Glasgow wedding mother

A speeding drink driver has admitted causing the death of a mother in a crash as she returned home from her son's wedding.

left-right James Laurie (Mary's husband), Michelle Colquhoun, Martin Colquhoun (Mary's son) and Mary Laurie, also known as Marie.
Picture: PA Wire
left-right James Laurie (Mary's husband), Michelle Colquhoun, Martin Colquhoun (Mary's son) and Mary Laurie, also known as Marie. Picture: PA Wire

Mary Laurie, also known as Marie, was making her way back from the celebrations in November last year when the taxi she and her husband had just entered was hit by a car being chased by police in Glasgow.

The 57-year-old, from Easterhouse, lost consciousness minutes after being thrown through a window of the cab in the collision at the junction of Edinburgh Road and Springboig Road.

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Her family listened in court as they heard the man driving the car, 21-year-old Steven Bennie, reached about 80mph in a 30mph zone as he tried shake off the police pursuit.

Mary Laurie, also known as Marie. Picture PA Wire

During the chase, Bennie - who was behind the wheel without having a full driving licence - ignored red lights and had swerved to avoid another vehicle.

He also repeatedly ignored his passenger’s request to let her out of the car prior to the crash, which left Mrs Laurie’s husband James with seven rib fractures.

Bennie, who was 20 at the time, appeared at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday, where he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

Bennie, of Pettigrew Street, Glasgow, also admitted driving while over the legal alcohol limit and driving without the right licence and insurance.

Mary Laurie, also known as Marie. Picture PA Wire

He will be sentenced next month.

The court heard how Bennie was socialising with friends on the evening of Saturday November 28 and had been drinking.

He told them he had passed his driving test and had a new car.

At about 12.30am on Sunday November 29, he went with a friend in his Vauxhall Astra to a drive-thru to buy some ice cream.

Police became suspicious of the vehicle when he stopped to eat the food at Springhill industrial estate.

Bennie declared “F***, I’ve not got a licence” when he saw the police van approach and he drove off.

Officers switched on their blue lights and followed the vehicle, signalling they wanted it to stop.

Bennie initially slowed down, then headed off “at speed”, prompting the chase along Easterhouse Road, Westerhouse Road, Bartiebeith Road and then the A8 Edinburgh Road.

There were gasps from Mrs Laurie’s tearful relatives as they heard that Bennie’s female passenger claims he was driving “at about 80mph” throughout the pursuit.

Meanwhile, Mrs Laurie - carrying a bouquet of flowers from the wedding in Ayrshire - hailed a taxi at about 1.30am for the last leg of the journey home.

Advocate depute Tim Niven-Smith, for the Crown, told the court: “Just as the taxi turned onto Edinburgh Road, the accused’s vehicle came across the junction through the red light and collided with the side of the taxi.

“The impact of the collision caused the taxi to spin round and hit a traffic light pole and Mary Laurie was thrown from the taxi through a window.”

She soon lost consciousness and police officers could not find a pulse. She was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where she was pronounced dead as a result of the head and chest injuries sustained.

Mr Laurie suffered the fractures and a laceration to his liver while Bennie’s passenger was taken to A&E after being trapped in the crash.

The court heard Bennie became “extremely upset” after the incident.

Tests showed he had a minimum of 71mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 50mg.

Bennie, who has no previous convictions, hung his head as details of his actions were revealed.

John McElroy, defending, saved his plea in mitigation for the sentencing hearing.

But he told the court Bennie “bitterly regrets his actions”.

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Laurie’s son Martin Colquhoun, whose wedding she had been attending, described his mother as “a peacemaker”.

He said: “My mum was just a very genuine woman, she got on with everybody. She loved her family.”

Mrs Laurie had two sons, a step-son and a step-daughter.

Mr Colquhoun, surrounded by his relatives, said the hearing would help them achieve closure following the tragedy.

“It’s been a tough time as everyone knows since the death of my mum,” he said.

“We’re a very close-knit family, very strong. It tore us apart at that point but we’ll get there and justice will be done.

“We’re quite happy with what’s happened today so far and we’ll be happy obviously when the sentence is passed.”

He told how the family heard some of the details for the first time in court and said that finding out Bennie had reached 80mph “really took us aback”.

He welcomed the guilty plea, which saved the family from having to sit through a trial.

On Bennie, he added: “His name doesn’t pass through my thoughts.

“My mum’s not here and that’s the main thing for us, she’s gone, she’s taken, but it could have been any accident in the world that took her.”

Judge Lord Boyd will sentence Bennie in Glasgow on October 21.