Pensioner, 83, convicted of killing teenager with car

A pensioner has been found guilty of killing a teenager by careless driving after he reversed over her while she filled her car with fuel.

Eilish Herron, 17, died from head injuries after she was hit by a car while refuelling her Renault Clio. Picture: Contributed
Eilish Herron, 17, died from head injuries after she was hit by a car while refuelling her Renault Clio. Picture: Contributed

Alexander Wotherspoon, 83, was convicted over the death of 17-year-old Eilish Herron, who was crowned Renfrewshire’s Young Sportsperson of the Year in 2013.

Her mother Shanneal condemned Wotherspoon for not admitting his guilt and putting her family through the ordeal of a trial. She said Wotherspoon had never apologised for killing Eilish, and claimed he actually stepped over her daughter’s body as she lay dying after he hit her.

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Wotherspoon admitted hitting Eilish, causing her to die from a head injury, while driving his silver Ford Focus at the Asda filling station in Linwood, Renfrewshire, on 10 September, 2014.

But he denied he caused her death by driving without due care and attention, in breach of Section 2B of the Road Traffic Act 1988, and went on trial at Paisley Sheriff Court.

The court heard paramedics had to use two car jacks to lift Whetherspoon’s car to get to Eilish. She was pronounced dead at the scene after being dragged about 20 yards while trapped under the vehicle. Wotherspoon did not give evidence at his trial but claimed through defence solicitor Laura Irvine that his knee had hit a poorly installed hand lever next to his steering wheel, causing his car to shoot back and hit Eilish, who was filling her blue Renault Clio with petrol.

But a jury took just an hour to reject his version of events and find him guilty of failing to keep control of his car and, while it was reversing, hitting Eilish’s car, knocking her to the ground, moving her car out of the way, reversing over her, dragging her underneath the car and causing her to be so severely injured that she died.

Wotherspoon showed no emotion as he was convicted and Sheriff Seith Ireland adjourned the case for him to be assessed by social workers ahead of sentencing.

He also banned Wotherspoon from driving, saying the case involved “a very serious charge” and was “a matter of great anxiety” for the jury.

Speaking outside court after the verdict, Eilish’s mother Shanneal said: “All I ever wanted was for him to put his hands up and admit his guilt and say sorry. When he pleaded not guilty we, as a family, and Paisley, as a community, were totally shocked – we couldn’t understand what his defence was going to be.

“He’s blamed the faulty equipment but he said in his police interview that there was nothing behind him – Eilish was behind him, she was filling her car up with petrol. It really and truly beggars belief. He has shown no remorse.

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“He actually stepped over Eilish, my daughter’s body, to get out of his car, and said he was not guilty. He doesn’t have a conscience.”

Her father John said in a written statement: “Today’s verdict is not a victory for Eilish – it does not bring her back or ease our heartbreak at losing her – but it does allow the family to gain some closure.”

He continued: “The only two words the family ever wanted to hear from Mr Wotherspoon was, ‘I’m sorry’.”

Eilish, of Paisley, was a keen netball player who played for Paisley Juniors, volunteered as a junior coach and was due to start a nursing degree.