A driver who caused the death of a north-east grandfather in a horrific accident relives the tragedy “daily and nightly”, a court has been told.
Liam Duddy’s car crashed into the back of pensioner Daniel Gilfillan, crushing him between two cars.
Mr Gilfillan, 66, of Portlethen, had been involved in a minor three-car collision just 15 minutes before and had been exchanging details with the other motorists when the crash happened.
Duddy, 38, tried desperately to help the injured grandfather at the scene but Mr Gilfillan was pronounced dead by paramedics 30 minutes later.
Mr Gilfillan’s wife of 47 years, Susan, was in the passenger seat of their car but was uninjured. She has since died and the couple is survived by their two sons.
Duddy, of Banchory, was originally charged with causing death by dangerous driving in December 2020, but pled guilty to a lesser charge last August.
‘He feels unable to move beyond his actions’
He’s been spared a jail sentence but now lives with “guilt and regret” over his actions, Aberdeen Sheriff Court was told yesterday.
Defence advocate Frances Connor described the incident, on February 2 last year, as a “tragic, tragic accident” and said the oil industry worker and university graduate now relives it daily.
“Until this instance, Mr Duddy had led an exemplary life and contributed well to society working hard at his job and within the community,” she said.
“He continues to get upset discussing the accident and what happened to Mr Gilfillan. His grief is ongoing and he has really struggled to come to terms with this.
“Knowing he caused such anguish to the family weighs heavily on him and at present, he feels unable to move beyond his actions.”
Minor collision turned to tragedy
She said: “Around 10 to 15 minutes after that collision, the accused was driving eastbound when he was passing the stationary cars involved in the earlier collision.
“The car in front braked suddenly, resulting in him swerving to avoid a collision.
“In doing so he returned to the eastbound lane before it was clear, colliding with Daniel Gilfillan and crashing into the rear of Mr Gilfillan’s car, trapping him between the two cars.”
Duddy and others at the scene tried to separate the two cars and free Mr Gilfillan, but with no success.
An off-duty doctor stopped to help and found Mr Gilfillan had been “trapped and suspended between the two vehicles”.
When paramedics arrived they said he had “traumatic head and leg injuries” and pronounced him dead at the scene at 2.12pm.
Duddy, who was alone in his car, had a clean licence and no previous convictions.
Checks confirmed he was not under the influence of drink or drugs and he was not using his mobile phone.
‘Full of regret and remorse’
Defence advocate Frances Connor said: “He tells me he relives this accident daily and nightly.
“He accepts he was distracted by the scene beside him and he registered the first two cars but didn’t immediately register the third.
“He tried to help Mr Gilfillan, tried to move his car back, tried to help others at the scene and used his clothes to try wrap Mr Gilfillan’s head and support it awaiting the emergency services.”
Ms Connor added Duddy was “full of regret and remorse” and regardless of his sentencing intends to write to Mr Gilfillan’s family.
“This is truly one of the most tragic examples of this kind of case to come to court,” she added.
“It has taken away the life of one gentleman and gone some way to ruining the life of another, as well as causing heartache and grief to the family of Mr Gilfillan.”
‘Caused immeasurable harm’
Sheriff Morag McLaughlin spared Duddy from a custodial sentence saying she acknowledged Duddy’s display of “considerable remorse, guilt and regret” in relation to his actions.
She added: “This was a horrific and tragic event which had catastrophic consequences for the deceased and his family and the accused and his family.
“I have read and was very moved by the victim impact statement from Mr Gilfillan’s son and I cannot begin to imagine the heartbreak he eloquently described.”
She added that the harm caused was “immeasurable” to both parties and their families and acknowledged Duddy’s attempts to try to save Mr Gilfillan at the scene and the “significant remorse” he has shown since the accident.
Duddy, of Waston Street, Banchory, was handed a community payback order comprising a two-year supervision order, 200 hours of unpaid work and a six-month curfew.
He is also banned from driving for the next two years.
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