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Court convicts driver who deleted record of phone call after killing cyclist

Court finds Julie Watson guilty of causing death of Alistair Speed through dangerous driving

A woman who deleted a record of a phone call she had made while driving after hitting a cyclist has been convicted of causing his death.

Julie Watson, aged 36 and from Kinross, hit cyclist Alistair Speed on the A91, near Gateside in Fife, in September 2013, reports BBC News.

The victim died from severe head injuries, with his sister, Mhairi Laffoley, saying his death had caused a "horrendous" effect on their family.

She said: "My parents died within 12 weeks of the accident."

She added that her brother was “a very, very competent cyclist" who was "very steady” and “didn't take risks."
Judge Lord Kinclaven remanded Watson in custody pending sentencing next month.

He told her: "In the circumstances I am not satisfied bail should be continued."

He added: "The use of a mobile phone, especially calling out, is a conscious, wilful act. The use of a phone when driving, a hand-held phone, is an offence."

The verdict comes in the same week that a survey from road safety charity IAM found that illegal use of hand held mobile phones is the greatest concern that drivers have about other motorists.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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34 comments

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Glasgow Cyclist | 8 years ago
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She's been sentenced to 5 years in jail. No word about disqualification or retest yet. She was also convicted of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by deleting a record of a call on her mobile.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-33347363

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mrmo replied to Glasgow Cyclist | 8 years ago
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Glasgow Cyclist wrote:

She's been sentenced to 5 years in jail. No word about disqualification or retest yet. She was also convicted of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by deleting a record of a call on her mobile.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-33347363

from the article

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Watson was also disqualified from driving for 10 years and will have to sit an extended driving test.

no where near long enough on the sentence or the ban IMO, But regardless it doesn't bring back the dead, it doesn't undo her actions.

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oldstrath | 8 years ago
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If we were remotely serious , the phone, the car and her freedom would be gone. Unfortunately we're not even close to serious.

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nevster | 8 years ago
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So thats another life for the sake of a bluetooth speakerphone?

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kwi replied to nevster | 8 years ago
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nevster wrote:

So thats another life for the sake of a bluetooth speakerphone?

Which are really no better than having the phone in your hand.

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muppetteer | 8 years ago
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6 month driving ban, £200 fine, 50 hours community work.

Remember its the Crown Prosecution Service who prosecute, not the Police.

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Airzound replied to muppetteer | 8 years ago
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muppetteer wrote:

6 month driving ban, £200 fine, 50 hours community work.

Remember its the Crown Prosecution Service who prosecute, not the Police.

And it's the judge/magistrates who decide sentence/penalty on conviction.

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Flying Scot replied to muppetteer | 8 years ago
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muppetteer wrote:

6 month driving ban, £200 fine, 50 hours community work.

Remember its the Crown Prosecution Service who prosecute, not the Police.

Procurator Fiscal in this case / Scotland. Different legal system

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atlaz | 8 years ago
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300 quid fine huge??? I'd take that over a 3-month ban any day. I think 1 week salary fine for the first then progressively larger fines plus bans for each after the first.

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Bill H replied to atlaz | 8 years ago
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A big plus 1 for linking fines to salary / income. A £300 fine is close to a week's wages (after tax) for someone on the median income, and a decent deterent. But for someone further along the bell curve it will be just a day or even less.

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Rob the Commuter | 8 years ago
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Phoning, texting, internet on a tablet, reading the paper... I see it all the time on my way into work. It just frightens me. All it needs is a policeman, on a bike, with a head cam. They would have a field day.

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Airzound | 8 years ago
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Hang the bitch.

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ianrobo | 8 years ago
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Maybe Scottish justice is better ?

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hampstead_bandit | 8 years ago
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problems with fines is that they don't go back to traffic policing to help the Police increase their numbers and actions to improve the roads - these fines go to general taxation, unless I am completely mistaken?

If the fines could be ring fenced for road Policing, infrastructure projects, driver and cyclist education programmes, then maybe something would change?

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Peowpeowpeowlasers replied to hampstead_bandit | 8 years ago
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hampstead_bandit wrote:

problems with fines is that they don't go back to traffic policing to help the Police increase their numbers and actions to improve the roads - these fines go to general taxation, unless I am completely mistaken?

If the fines could be ring fenced for road Policing, infrastructure projects, driver and cyclist education programmes, then maybe something would change?

A very, very bad idea. Financial incentives such as the one you propose lead to corruption. The police should do their job because it's the right thing to do and not because it makes them more money.

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racyrich replied to Peowpeowpeowlasers | 8 years ago
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Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:
hampstead_bandit wrote:

problems with fines is that they don't go back to traffic policing to help the Police increase their numbers and actions to improve the roads - these fines go to general taxation, unless I am completely mistaken?

If the fines could be ring fenced for road Policing, infrastructure projects, driver and cyclist education programmes, then maybe something would change?

A very, very bad idea. Financial incentives such as the one you propose lead to corruption. The police should do their job because it's the right thing to do and not because it makes them more money.

And there in a nutshell is the problem.
Private sector believes effort and achievement should result in greater rewards. But that can lead to some very dubious incentives and practices.
Public sector thinks doing the right thing as a public service should be reward enough (satisfactory salary still required), but then there is no incentive to achieve better results. If incentive bonuses are introduced in the public sector there's an outcry. If targets are introduced, working to meet the target becomes the objective rather than do the right thing. As when police were told to make a certain number of arrests - it was easier to catch 10 litter droppers a day than one armed robber a month.
So, it's not simple. But I do know something is not working at the moment! And people are being killed as a result.

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Phil H | 8 years ago
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I hope she gets the book thrown at her- a really f***ing big one!

Death by dangerous drving, perverting the cause of justice: what more is needed?

But as I've said before on these pages, not much use having any penalties for using phones etc whilst driving if there's no police on the roads to catch them.
I do 13 miles up & down A3 inside M25 every day, and haven't seen a police car in weeks (apart from unmarked ones doing over the ton every other day)

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Das | 8 years ago
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Level 2 Offence. Starting point 5 years. She deleted the text and never plead guilty, so there is no reason it should be less than 5 years. But as shes a woman so it will be 3 1/2 years and the usual 10 year driving ban that can be revoked at 6 years to allow her to take her best mates, cousins disabled auntie to hospital for treatment on her athletes foot every month.

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djfleming22 | 8 years ago
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I think they should give out automatic bans to people caught using mobiles say 3 months, if caught twice in a year a 1year ban ..etc and see if that helps

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hsiaolc replied to djfleming22 | 8 years ago
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djfleming22 wrote:

I think they should give out automatic bans to people caught using mobiles say 3 months, if caught twice in a year a 1year ban ..etc and see if that helps

Ban is nothing. They just continue doing it. Give a huge fine like £300.

I think if anything I think the should fine the offense at £300 and then I think the police will be more keen to catch them and slowly people will think twice before using their mobile while driving.

If they can't pay on the spot then pound the car till they do.

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UrbanBushman replied to hsiaolc | 8 years ago
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Problem with fines is that it hurts you more depending on income. A prem footballer would not bat an eye lid, and there for provides no deterant.

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racyrich replied to UrbanBushman | 8 years ago
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UrbanBushman wrote:

Problem with fines is that it hurts you more depending on income. A prem footballer would not bat an eye lid, and there for provides no deterant.

Fines ARE based on disposable income. The problem is actually the opposite you think it is. Most crime is committed by the poor - they don't fear being fined as they'll be asked for a fiver a week. Which is actually paid by the taxpayer from their benefits (whether unemployed or working tax credits).
The only people actually deterred by fines are the squeezed, law-abiding middle.
Hence I don't agree with fines. Or prison for that matter, except for remand. Capital and corporal punishment and hard labour all work very well. Punish, deter, humiliate, prevent reoffending. Ideal!
I'd put mobile phone using drivers in the stocks every weekend for a month.

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hampstead_bandit | 8 years ago
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The Police could really make examples of these cases to warn other motorists that its not acceptable to drive whilst using a hand held cell phone

I've just ridden home through London during rush hour, and the amount of drivers in private vehicles, company vehicles, public transport vehicles all busy tapping away on smartphones and tablets, or busy talking on the phone, whilst driving in heavy traffic, simply beggars belief.

Especially when traffic slows down, it seems like an excuse to whip the phone out and quickly check their facebook status or send a text.

Until the wider driving public realise its unacceptable to behave in this manner, like perhaps happened with seat belts and drink driving, unfortunately we will see more cases like this being reported on road.cc  2

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Russell Orgazoid | 8 years ago
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Hope she rots. Selfish cunt.

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SNS1938 | 8 years ago
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Trying to delete the call record is very telling. Well done to the police* for putting in the effort to check the with the mobile carrier to find out about this call. That's really pleasing to see that they didn't just blame the cyclist for being there and drop the whole thing. Now a good long sentence and many year loss of license. The driver actively called out whilst driving and tried to hide from their actions. That shows a huge disregard for the law and for the attitude that even after breaking the law and causing death, they shouldn't be punished.

*I assume it was the police who investigated to find this information out.

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Awavey replied to SNS1938 | 8 years ago
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SNS1938 wrote:

Trying to delete the call record is very telling. Well done to the police* for putting in the effort to check the with the mobile carrier to find out about this call.

I think theyd have to anyway to prove the phone log was accurate, why I dont get why the article leads with the point about "deleting the call" because she didnt and couldnt delete it, because the source data of the phone call will always be with the phone companies providing the service, and their timings and records are legally not disputable.

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ianrobo replied to Awavey | 8 years ago
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Awavey wrote:
SNS1938 wrote:

Trying to delete the call record is very telling. Well done to the police* for putting in the effort to check the with the mobile carrier to find out about this call.

I think theyd have to anyway to prove the phone log was accurate, why I dont get why the article leads with the point about "deleting the call" because she didnt and couldnt delete it, because the source data of the phone call will always be with the phone companies providing the service, and their timings and records are legally not disputable.

I doubt the person knew this and just deleted ti off her phone, the naive person ...

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Metaphor | 8 years ago
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Off with her head!

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lolol | 8 years ago
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Surely the added crime of trying to pervert the course of justice, which in itself is supposed to be serious.

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levermonkey | 8 years ago
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6 months inside (consideration taken for time served), 18 month revocation of license and 250 hours voluntary work.

Really hope I'm wrong and that Judge Lord Kinclaven decides to make an example of her.

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