Ian Moorhouse v. Her Majesty’s Advocate [2022] HCJAC 22


Note of appeal against sentence:- At the sheriff court the appellant pled guilty under the accelerated procedure in terms of section 76 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 to a charge of causing death by careless driving contrary to section 2B of the Road Traffic Act 1988. He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, discounted from a starting point of 18 months on account of the plea of guilty. The appellant appealed against his sentence it being contended that the sentence imposed was excessive, that an appropriate alternative sentence was available in the form of a community based disposal. The circumstances of the offence were that the appellant was driving a Heavy Goods Vehicle at around 1100am on 25 February 2020. The appellant was driving towards a “Y” junction and was behind a slow moving tractor and trailer which was significantly obscuring the appellant’s view ahead and prevented him from seeing oncoming traffic. As the appellant approached the junction he turned his vehicle across the carriageway but did not wait until the tractor had moved far enough ahead of him to provide the appellant with a clear view of the road ahead. At that time Mrs B was driving her Volkswagen Golf in the opposing carriageway and the appellant’s tanker crossed directly in front of her and she was unable to avoid colliding with it causing multiple and serious injuries which she died from a short time later. The collision was entirely as a result of the appellant’s driving. The sheriff reported to the court in considering the appropriate penalty he had regard to the Scottish Sentencing Council guideline. Having regard to the various factors the sheriff required to take into account the sheriff regarded the offence as a very serious one, for which only a custodial sentence was appropriate and that the sentencing range was between 18-24 months imprisonment, a non-custodial alternative not being sufficient to address the sentencing objectives of punishment and deterrence. In addition, the appellant had a previous conviction from 2013 for using a mobile phone whilst driving. It was recognised by the sentencing sheriff that the appellant had accepted full responsibility for the offence, was remorseful, had a good employment history and a pro-social lifestyle. The sheriff took the view that the headline sentence should be at the lower end of the range, namely 18 months imprisonment which he discounted to 12 months due to the plea by section 76. He disqualified the appellant from driving for 46 months. In the appeal against sentence it was submitted that there was an appropriate alternative sentence available to the sentencing sheriff in the form of a community based disposal. Emphasis was placed on the appellant’s good character, his age (64), along with the circumstances of the offence which were categorised as being a terrible mistake in what was described as a momentary error of judgement for which he had expressed genuine remorse. Here the court refused the appeal. The court regarded the standard of driving to be not falling far short of dangerous driving and that by cross-checking the standard of driving against the Definitive Guideline issued by the Sentencing Council for England and Wales, which the sheriff had done, the headline sentence selected by him fell within the range given in the Guideline and a custodial sentence was merited given the high level of culpability and the terrible consequences which resulted.


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