Family left devastated as Inverurie lorry driver avoids jail

The father of a woman who was killed by a lorry driver has spoken of the devastation he and his family felt following the sentencing.

Robert Morrison with his daughter Chloe.
Robert Morrison with his daughter Chloe.

John O'Donnell, from Inverurie, was sentenced to just 100 hours of unpaid work and banned from driving for 12 months.

O’Donnell was driving through Drumnadrochit in 2019 when he failed to notice a fully extended stabiliser leg protruding from his vehicle, which had a crane attached.

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It struck Chloe, 26, who was walking along the pavement with her mother, in the back. Chloe, from the Inverness-shire village, was propelled 115ft and died after suffering multiple fractures.

Chloe with dad Robert, mum Karen and sister Jodi.
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Robert Morrison, Chloe’s father, said it felt like Chloe had been killed all over again: “What happened in court caused a pain like losing our daughter for the second time.

“How could O’Donnell kill someone else – either through arrogance or stupidity – then stand on that witness stand and make out like he didn’t know anything about the vehicle he was in control of?

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“To add insult and trauma to our loss he then just gets an effective slap on the wrist… it’s utterly insulting.

“We will be speaking with the fiscal next week to discuss this outcome but this can’t be final - I really hope the COPFS appeal this ludicrous sentence.

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“We were assured to stay patient for more than three years and that justice would be done but it hasn’t.

“While we always knew this was an accident there still has to be clear understandings about what happened, accountability and lessons to be learned to ensure no other family ever goes through this kind of situation.

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“We had to walk past him outside court and I went up to him and said ‘You have no idea how much harm you have caused this family’.

“And do you know what he did? He smirked at me. It took everything in me to walk away.

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“O'Donnell probably spent his night celebrating his freedom - as for us, we went to the cemetery in tears feeling like the loss of our daughter counted for nothing.

“We know there’s a consultation underway on death by driving – I hope it sorts outcomes like this because the whole system is a mess.”

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Chloe’s family has now launched a civil action in the hope of the getting the recognition they deserve.

Sam Cowie, Partner at Digby Brown in Inverness, said: “Chloe and the Morrison family deserve to be recognised and have chance to hold those responsible to account so we will support them throughout a civil process.”