Drunk driver gets nine years for killing two good Samaritans

A DRINK-DRIVER has been jailed for nine years for causing the deaths of two good Samaritans as they tried to help an elderly woman after an accident.

Thomas Irvine failed to see Thomas Rarity and Anthony Gordon standing beside an upturned car on a dual carriageway and ploughed into them at high speed. Both men suffered fatal head injuries.

A judge yesterday told Irvine, who was more than twice the legal alcohol limit, that he had been clearly unfit to drive.

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"The catastrophic outcome of your reckless and grossly irresponsible conduct extends well beyond the tragic fact that two men lost their lives in circumstances where they had gone to the aid of another motorist. Their families and friends continue to suffer great pain and distress," said Lord Pentland.

"I cannot undo any of the devastation you have brought about, but I can attempt to reflect society's strong condemnation of drunken and dangerous driving in an effort to deter others who may be tempted to take the type of chance you were prepared to take."

Bereaved relatives left the High Court in Edinburgh in tears. Mr Rarity's family said in a statement: "Thomas was killed doing something he always did - helping someone. That was the type of person he was.

"He was the most caring and loving man you could ever meet. The sentence that was given today will never be long enough… life without Thomas will never, ever be the same again."

Mr Gordon's family declined to comment.

Irvine, 48, an HGV driver and plumber, of Almond Crescent, Paisley, admitted causing the deaths of Mr Rarity, of Bathgate, West Lothian, and Mr Gordon, of Glasgow, on 31 January last year on the A737 near Linwood, Renfrewshire, by driving dangerously, at excessive speed and while under the influence of alcohol.

The accident happened at 8:20pm on a Sunday. Minutes earlier, Isabella Kelly, 71, of Glasgow, driving a Volkswagen Polo, had been involved in a collision with another vehicle and her car ended up on its side.

Mr Rarity, 47, and Mr Gordon, 39, witnessed the crash, left their cars and climbed over the central barrier to assist the trapped Ms Kelly. A line of about six cars stopped in the inside lane, their hazard warning lights flashing.

Irvine was on his way home from a pub in his Vauxhall Combo van, the speed limit for which was 60mph, but witnesses described the van as "going really fast", "flying" and "haring". He passed the stationary vehicles and, without braking, struck the overturned Polo. The van careered down an embankment, while the Polo rolled across the road and righted itself.

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Mr Rarity died instantly. Mr Gordon died in hospital six days later. Ms Kelly was treated for a head cut and other injuries.

Lord Pentland said the sentence would have been 11 years but Irvine was due a discount for pleading guilty. He also banned him from driving for 12 years.

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