5 years for phone-call motorist who killed cyclist

Julie Watson deleted her call before ringing 999 to summon help. Picture: Ciaran Donnelly
Julie Watson deleted her call before ringing 999 to summon help. Picture: Ciaran Donnelly
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A MOTORIST who killed a cyclist as she used her mobile phone while driving then deleted the incriminating call has been jailed for five years.

Julie Watson, 36, deleted a record of the call and only then phoned 999 in a bid to summon emergency services after she collided with Alistair Speed.

Tesco supervisor Alistair Speed died from head injuries

Tesco supervisor Alistair Speed died from head injuries

The mother-of-two was found guilty of causing the death by dangerous driving of Mr Speed, 49, on the A91 between Strathmiglo and Gateside, in Fife, in September 2013.

She was also convicted of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by deleting a record of a call she made just before the 999 call.

Watson, of Kinross, was on bail throughout her trial at the High Court in Edinburgh but after the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts, the judge had told her she now had serious convictions.

Yesterday judge Lord Kinclaven jailed Watson for a total of five years at the High Court in Glasgow.

He told her: “You have demonstrated remorse which I accept is genuine for causing Mr Speed’s death and you are well aware of the devastation that has been caused to Mr Speed’s family and indeed all those who knew him.”

The judge said that while driving “the use of a mobile phone has the capacity to wreck lives and literally kill”.

He added: “Use of a hand-held mobile phone is in itself an unlawful act.

“The fact an offender is avoidably distracted by the use of a mobile phone when committing an offence of this sort will always make an offence more serious.” Watson was also disqualified from driving for ten years and will have to sit an extended driving test.

Mr Speed, a Tesco supervisor who lived in Glenrothes, Fife, died from severe head injuries in the incident.

He was a long-standing member of Fife Century Road Club and had taken part in his last event the previous day.

Mr Speed’s sister, Mhairi 
Laffoley, 48, said the effect of the incident on her family had been “horrendous”.

The court heard that Watson – who has two previous convictions for speeding – was driving her Vauxhall Corsa behind another car being driven by her mother.

After the incident, another driver who had stopped spoke to Watson and she said she did not know how she had hit the cyclist.

She said her mobile phone was in the pocket of her jeans and added: “The first time I took the phone out was to phone for an ambulance.”

But evidence showed that a phone call had been made shortly before the 999 call from the device.