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Engineer accused of causing death of north-east refuse collector says he has no memory of the collision

Craig Ross.
Craig Ross.

An engineer on trial for killing an Aberdeenshire man by driving dangerously has claimed that he was not to blame for the accident – as he had accidentally inhaled gas moments before.

Craig Ross is accused of causing the death of refuse collector, William Buchan, by ploughing his work van into Mr Buchan’s council vehicle the A90 Aberdeen to Fraserburgh road near Hatton in May 2016.

As his trial at the High Court in Aberdeen entered its second day yesterday, Ross attempted to convince jurors that the accident was not his fault as he entered a rarely used plea of “automatism”.

The plea means that he was not responsible for his actions as he was involuntarily intoxicated, by accidentally inhaling gas which escaped from a canister in the back of his van.

The court heard Ross had been working as a refrigeration engineer for Integral Ltd at the time of the incident and was travelling towards the Morrisons on King Street in Aberdeen.

Giving evidence yesterday, the accused claimed he remembered nothing more than hearing a gas leak coming from the back of the vehicle, pulling over in a bus stop, sealing the leaking item and setting off again.

He also spoke of the devastating impact the crash has had on him.

Ross said: “As soon as I put my head on the pillow I think about it, for the life of me I can’t think what happened that day.”

However, prosecutors maintain that the accused caused the death of 41-year-old Mr Buchan by driving onto the wrong side of the road and crashing into his tipper van.

Advocate depute, Alan Cameron, chalenged the version of events which Ross supplied the court with.

Mr Cameron said: “The leaking gas bottle, the stop, you have just made it up.”

The 29-year-old accused replied: “No.”

The court previously heard that Integral Ltd placed a tracker device on the vehicles used by employees.

Mr Cameron said the time that Ross’s vehicle was only stopped for 20 seconds before the collision, and suggested it was unlikely he could have parked the van, got out, opened another door, sealed a leak, returned to the driver’s seat and set off in this period.

Mr Ross maintained that was what happened.

Earlier in the day forensic scientist, Shirley Chin, who investigated the eight canisters found in the van, said that no leaks had been found and gas was still present inside when she looked at them earlier this month.

Ross, of Fara Close in Aberdeen, denies the charge against him and the trial, before Lord Burns, continues.

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