Melanie Grierson, aged 54, was jailed for just over one year and banned from driving for 3 years after striking three children and their mother on a pedestrian crossing when it was a green man.
Following her sentencing, Grierson sought to appeal on the basis that a non-custodial sentence would have been more appropriate.
The incident occurred on Kirkton Street in Carluke. On the relevant date, there was poor visibility due to wet weather conditions and the appellant drove through a red light in her Fiat 500, at 30mph causing her to strike the 4 victims. This occurred despite the appellant frequently using this road and being familiar with the road layout.
The court heard how the first victim, the mother, has seen the Fiat coming towards them and attempted to minimise her children from impact by pushing them out of the way. In her efforts, she was struck by the bonnet of the vehicles and was sent under the vehicle.
All four pedestrians required medical treatment after the incident with the injuries of the mother being most severe. She required treatment for over 2 years.
At the initial trial, Grierson pled not guilty to causing injury by dangerous driving. She maintained the position that she had not seen the red light and she was observing her rear-view mirrors for an ambulance that was approaching behind her. She offered to plead guilty to driving without due care and attention, but her plea was not accepted by the Crown and the case proceeded to trial. The trial sheriff found that Grierson would have been disengaged from the road for approximately 14 seconds prior to impact. She was convicted unanimously by the jury of causing injury by dangerous driving.
The appellant argued that due to her lack of previous convictions and her clean driver’s license that a CPO with an unpaid work requirement would be more appropriate. Additionally, her genuine remorse was reiterated to the court.
Lord Doherty, delivering the opinion of the court, began: “This is a sad case – for the victims and for the appellant. There were several mitigating factors, but culpability and harm were high. Even if the appellant was distracted by an ambulance some distance behind her, there is no escaping that she did not slow down at all on approach to the crossing.”
“We are very mindful that in relation to the assessment of culpability the sheriff had the advantage of seeing and hearing the evidence at the trial. We are not persuaded that his assessments of culpability or harm overstated the position in any way. We are not convinced that he failed to give the aggravating and mitigating factors due weight.”
“We are not satisfied that it would be right to interfere with his judgement that a custodial sentence was necessary, or that the appropriate sentence should be 12 months’ imprisonment. In our view those conclusions are fully supported by checking that outcome using the sentencing guideline. In our judgement the culpability category here was closer to B than C, and in taking it as C the sheriff treated the appellant more favourably than he might have.”
The appeal against sentence was refused.