Farmer jailed for fatal trailer crash

A FARMER who caused a man's death when a trailer disconnected from his tractor and smashed into a truck was jailed for two years yesterday.

A judge told Alister Clark, 58, that it was a "truly tragic" case, and a warning to other farmers to be aware of the condition of their machinery and to ensure proper connections.

After Clark's nine-metre long trailer uncoupled from the tractor on a bend, it slid across the road and Stuart Reid, 34, did not have time to avoid a collision. The roof of his vehicle was torn off and he suffered extensive head injuries and died at the scene.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Clark, of Station Cottages, Ballindalloch, Moray, pleaded guilty to causing the death of Mr Reid, a tree surgeon, of Dulnain Bridge, near Grantown on Spey, Moray, by dangerous driving on 19 October, 2008.

Lord Doherty said: "This is truly a tragic case... anything other than a custodial sentence would not sufficiently recognise the seriousness of the offence. It is not in the worst category of cases of this type, but the degree of culpability is significant."

The judge said Clark had failed to check the trailer and tractor were properly coupled and that air brakes on the trailer were "so defective as to be incapable of operating" although it was not possible to say the accident would have been prevented had they been working.

"You are of previous good character with a clean driving licence. You have demonstrated genuine remorse, and a genuine desire that the circumstances of this accident be widely publicised so as to alert farmers to the danger which arose here and to their responsibilities," added Lord Doherty.

In addition to being jailed, Clark was banned from driving for three years.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard the accident occurred on a Sunday morning on the A95 near Ballindalloch.

Clark was driving a tractor and towing the unladen flat-bed trailer to a farm at Nethybridge. Mr Reid was heading in his silver Mitsubishi truck to a golf outing in Huntly. The advocate-depute, Leanne Cross, said a trailer could not be connected directly to a tractor, but required a "dolly converter" to act as a bridge.

"As the accused negotiated the bend, the trailer separated from the dolly... and slid across the carriageway and collided with Stuart Reid's vehicle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Owing to the height difference, the front of the car effectively travelled under the trailer," she added.

"The deceased was unable to take evasive action in terms of his vehicle but appears to have leaned away in an effort to avoid being struck - without success. The entire windscreen smashed and the top and offside of the vehicle were removed by the force of the trailer."

Miss Cross said the dolly converter and the trailer were found to be in a very poor condition, with numerous defects.

Related topics: