Farmer jailed after tractor trailer caused driver's death

A FARMER who caused the death of a motorist when a defective tractor trailer detached and crashed into a pick-up truck was jailed for two years today.

Stuart Reid, 34, suffered "severe and extensive" head injuries and died at the scene on the A95 near Ballindalloch, Moray.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard the trailer used by 58-year-old Alister Clark was found to be in a "very poor condition" and had numerous defects.

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First offender Clark, from Station Cottages, Ballindalloch, previously admitted causing the death of Mr Reid by dangerous driving on the morning of Sunday October 19 2008.

Appearing before Lord Doherty in Edinburgh again today, Clark was jailed, and disqualified from driving for three years. He will only be allowed back on the roads if he passes an extended driving test at the end of the ban.

The court heard today that Clark has a "genuine desire" for the circumstances of the accident be publicised widely to warn other farmers.

Mr Reid, a tree surgeon who lived with his partner in Dulnain Bridge, Grantown on Spey, was heading to a golf outing in his pick-up truck when the accident happened.

Clark was towing an empty nine-metre-long "articulated flatbed semi-trailer" along the A95 to his farm at Nethybridge.

The crash happened as the two men approached a corner from opposite directions.

As Clark negotiated the bend, the trailer he was towing disconnected from his tractor. It slid across the carriageway and collided with Mr Reid's truck.

The court heard Mr Reid did not have time to take any action to avoid the crash. His vehicle ended up partly under the trailer with its roof torn off.

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Staff at Ballindalloch filling station contacted emergency services on hearing a "loud bang" and realising how serious the accident was.

Examinations found that the trailer and a "dolly converter" which linked it to the tractor were in a poor condition and had a series of defects. Notably, the trailer's braking system was not working.

The court heard that Mr Reid's partner, Jennifer Petrie, and his parents were left "devastated" by their loss.

Passing sentence, Lord Doherty said the degree of culpability was "significant".

He said: "This is truly a tragic case. In this case anything other than a custodial sentence would not sufficiently recognise the seriousness of the offence.

"I've had regard to the gravity of the dangerous driving and the tragic consequences which it had."

He took into account his previous good character and lack of previous convictions.

The judge told Clark: "You have demonstrated genuine remorse.

"You have also demonstrated a genuine desire that the circumstances of this accident be widely publicised so as to alert farmers to the dangers which arose here and to their responsibilities."