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North-east woman guilty of causing pensioner’s death by driving dangerously

Anna-Marie Strachan
Anna-Marie Strachan

A woman was today found guilty of causing a pensioner’s death by driving dangerously on a country road.

Three other people, including two young children, were also seriously injured when Anna-Marie Strachan veered on to the wrong side of the A90 on the afternoon of July 31, 2014.

The 29-year-old was seen drifting on to the other carriageway in her blue Peugeot 308 straight into the path of an oncoming car and did not take any action to avoid the collision.

James Thomson, 73, the driver of the Volkswagen Passat travelling in the opposite direction, was badly injured in the head-on smash along with his 71-year-old wife Frances, who was a passenger in the car.

They were taken to hospital where they were treated for their injuries but Mr Thomson sadly died the following day.

Another motorist travelling behind Strachan on the Fraserburgh to Peterhead road described the crash as an “explosion of plastic”.

Witness Steven Sutherland, 55, said he pulled over and ran up to the crash site as soon as he realised what had happened to help the casualties.

When he reached the Peugeot 308, another passing driver was trying to get two young children, aged two and seven, out of the car to safety because there appeared to be smoke inside the vehicle and he feared the car might be on fire.

Giving evidence in court, Mr Sutherland said he spoke to Strachan who was clearly injured and trapped in the car. He said she was sitting in the vehicle with a mobile phone in her hand and told him she was trying to call her brother.

Strachan went on trial accused of causing the collision after consuming prescription drugs and holding the phone but both allegations were later deleted from the charge.

The court was told that there was no record of Strachan having made or received a phone call or text message on her phone when the crash happened.  She told a paramedic who arrived at the scene that she was taking pain relief for chronic back pain.

Another witness, Jacqueline Kelly, told the jury at Aberdeen High Court that she also saw the collision while travelling behind the Peugeot on the rural road near the village of Rathen.

The secondary school teacher said: “As I was going along there was a change in the car in front of me.  “It sort of very slowly started gliding on to the other side of the road.”

Mrs Kelly, 49, told the court: “I just remember thinking ‘where’s that car going’, then there was the impact.”

Advocate depute Stewart Ronnie asked: “Did you see any brake lights being applied?”

She replied: “Not that I can remember.”

Mrs Kelly said she could see no reason for the car in front of her to drift on to the other carriageway.

Mr Ronnie asked: “Did you see anything on the road surface that would have caused the vehicle to go on to the other lane?”

She replied: “Not that I was aware of, no.”

The court heard that Mr Thomson, of Fraserburgh, in Aberdeenshire, had suffered fractures on his right leg and died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary the following day.

His 71-year-old wife had bilateral rib fractures and the seven-year-old girl travelling in the Peugeot was found to have a small laceration on her spleen and fractured ribs.

A two-year-old boy was also injured. The two children cannot be identified because of legal reasons relating to their age.

Strachan, of 2 Glover Close, Fraserburgh, was also admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary with a hip and ankle fracture and now walks with the aid of a walking stick.

She denied causing the crash when she went on trial last week but was found guilty of the offence by a majority verdict yesterday.

The jury of 11 women and four men took 50 minutes to reach their decision.

Sentence was deferred for background reports until the 12th of April at the High Court in Glasgow.

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