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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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Bob's Bikes | 8 years ago
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Lets hope that Judge Lord Kinclaven follows up with an appropriate lengthy sentence, it looks likely considering his comments and his removal of bail.

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bobby_brains | 8 years ago
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My guess is 2 years jail time.

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oozaveared replied to bobby_brains | 8 years ago
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bobby_brains wrote:

My guess is 2 years jail time.

I think longer. That's why bail was refused. This is a level 1 offence of Causing death by DD

Nature of offence: Level 1
The most serious offences encompassing driving that involved a deliberate decision to ignore (or a flagrant disregard for) the rules of the road and an apparent disregard for the great danger being caused to others

Starting point: 8 years custody
Sentencing range: 7-14 years custody

The starting point therefore is 8 years and the judge then looks at any mitigating factors or aggravating factors that either will reduce the sentence or lengthen it. The offence was making an outgoing call on a hand held mobile. That makes it Level 1. An aggravating factor is the deletion of the call record on her mobile. That's perverting the course of justice.

No mitigating factors have been mentioned in the article so I don't know but I doubt she'd be remanded if there were. The sentence is likely to be 9 - 10 years. It doesn't say if she pleaded guilty or when. So there might be 25% discount or not. But even then that would put it in the range of 7 years.

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severs1966 replied to oozaveared | 8 years ago
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oozaveared wrote:

The sentence is likely to be 9 - 10 years.

Fat chance. Courts DO hand out sentences that are shorter than the minimum in the guidelines.

Maybe the sentence should be 10 years, or maybe more!

However, I bet the sentence is around 5 years, or less. I predict an outbreak of "genuine remorse" being used as an excuse to cut the sentence.

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