Lawyer admits running over retired lecturer

A LAWYER has admitted causing the death of a retired college lecturer after she hit him with her car in rush-hour traffic.

Liana Di Ciacca, left, will be sentenced next month. Picture: Pressteam

Liana Di Ciacca, 30, was ­driving through Uddingston, Lanarkshire, when she ran down Joe Leitch, 79, as he crossed a street.

She was driving at up to 40mph in a 30mph zone and struck the pensioner in her black Ford Kuga after he had stepped off a bus.

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Mr Leitch was taken to hospital suffering from head and chest injuries following the crash, on 29 October, 2012, but died later that day.

Di Ciacca, a commercial property solicitor with a Glasgow law firm, yesterday admitted driving without due care and attention and hitting Mr Leitch.

Fiscal depute Ziad Hassan told Hamilton Sheriff Court that she had been travelling at excessive speed for the location and road conditions.

He said: “The deceased, Joseph Leitch, exited a single-decker bus and attempted to cross the road.

“At this time, a Ford Kuga driven by the accused was ­approaching.

“The incident was captured on CCTV and it shows that [Mr Leitch] appears to see the Ford Kuga driving towards him and he then begins to run across the road.

“The accused swerved towards the kerb in an attempt to avoid striking Mr Leitch.

“This manoeuvre was unsuccessful.”

Mr Hassan added: “The police crash investigation unit investigated the circumstances of the incident.

“They concluded that, although the deceased made the decision to run across a busy road, the accused was travelling at excessive speed in respect of the 30mph limit and the prevailing road and traffic conditions.

“A careful and competent driver should reduce their speed on approach to and travelling through the locus.”

Mr Leitch was a widower and father of three daughters, as well as a grandfather of seven.

Mr Hassan handed victim impact statements by Mr Leitch’s three daughters to Sheriff Joyce Powrie.

Di Ciacca’s lawyer, Barry Smith, passed on her condolences to Mr Leitch’s family.

He said: “Ms Di Ciacca wishes to be recorded formally in open court her sincere remorse and regret that this accident had such tragic consequences, and to express her sincere sympathy to the family of Mr Leitch.”

Sheriff Powrie deferred sentence on Di Ciacca, of Bothwell, Lanarkshire, until next month for background reports.

The lawyer, who has no previous convictions, was disqualified from driving while she awaits sentence.

Mr Leitch was a retired ­college lecturer who had lived in ­Uddingston before moving to nearby Bothwell three years before his death.

He taught maths at Coatbridge College and also did voluntary tutoring. He was a keen golfer and a member of Bothwell Golf Club.

He and his late wife Cathie were also members of Uddingston Baptist Church.

After his death, Mr Leitch’s family paid tribute to him, ­saying: “Joe was a devoted ­husband to Cathie, and nursed her through the many years of her illness.

“A real character, he had a great sense of humour and his stories of growing up in Maryhill, and of his years of National Service, in industry and in education, would keep his family and friends laughing for hours.”