Ban for driver who hit and killed Kirk minister

AN ELDERLY motorist has been banned from driving for causing the death of a Church of Scotland minister by hitting him twice with his car.

The Rev Sinclair was on his way to meet his wife when he died
The Rev Sinclair was on his way to meet his wife when he died

Kelman Edwards, 78, had previously pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to causing the death by careless driving of 76-year-old Rev Thomas Sinclair, on the city’s Waverley Bridge in May 2014.

Sentencing was deferred for background reports until yesterday, when he was banned for four years and placed on a restriction of liberty order.

Edwards, of Priestfield Road, Edinburgh, had been dropping his daughter off at Waverley but found the ramp to the station blocked by a newly installed security barrier.

As he reversed up to Waverley Bridge, which was busy with pedestrians, he pressed the accelerator pedal instead of the brake. His automatic Vauxhall Astra sped across the road, driving over the Rev Sinclair, who had been attending the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The car then hit a stationary Airlink bus on the opposite side of the road. As Edwards drove forward, his car hit the minister again.

Witnesses called emergency services and paramedics, while police and firefighters were quickly on the scene, but the minister suffered serious internal injuries, and could not be saved.

The Rev Sinclair, who was minister of Martin’s Memorial Church in Stornoway for many years, had been on his way from the General Assembly to meet his wife.

When questioned by police, Edwards said: “I don’t believe I was driving without due care and attention.”

However, he added that he had no intention of driving again and had voluntarily given up his licence.

As Edwards, using a walking stick, entered the court to await sentence, he tripped down a step, landed heavily on his back and was helped on to a seat. Sheriff Frank Crowe allowed him to remain there instead of entering the dock.

Defence solicitor Jim Stephenson told Sheriff Crowe: “No adequate words can express his regret and remorse about his actions. It will stay with him for the rest of his life.”

Mr Stephenson added: “He is struggling to come to terms with what happened that day. He is on medication as a result of the accident. He is unable to sleep at night – waking up, thinking of what happened that day.”

His client had lost three stone in weight, he said.

Sheriff Crowe placed him on a restriction of liberty order, confining him to his residence between 9pm and 6am for six months, disqualified him from driving for four years and ordered him to resit a full driving test.

After sentencing, John Cunningham, presbytery clerk of Lewis, said: “This has been a great tragedy for all involved. As a presbytery, our prayers are with Mrs Pam Sinclair and her family who are now reliving the horror of 2014.

“But our prayers are also with Mr Edwards and his family as he tries to come to terms with the life-changing consequences of this dreadful accident.

“Above all, we commit all concerned to the love and care of our sovereign God who works out all things for good for those who trust him.”