A convicted drink-driver whose dangerous actions behind the wheel of a powerful BMW caused the death of a “lovely” and “bubbly” woman has been jailed for six years.
Raymond Ward, 30, passed his test just three months before his BMW 218 D Sports Coupe collided with Claire Anderson’s purple Ford Fiesta on Orkney.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard how the horrifying smash took place on the A964 road between Kirkwall and Orphir on June 14 2019.
Motorists saw Ward driving the car, which has a top speed of more than 130mph, on the wrong side of the road moments before the collision.
One driver was so alarmed by Ward’s driving in the moments leading up to the crash that he remarked to his passenger ‘Where’s the fire’ when the accused executed a dangerous manoeuvre when overtaking him.
Moments later, Ward’s car drove struck 23-year-old Ms Anderson’s vehicle. Onlookers tried to save her life but she succumbed to her injuries.
Today, the court heard how Ward has two previous convictions – one of them was for drink-driving, an offence which he committed when he didn’t have a driving licence.
This prompted Judge Fiona Tait to send Ward to prison and give him a 10-year ban from driving.
Passing sentence, she made reference to a victim impact statement which had been provided to the court from Ms Anderson’s relatives.
She had also heard from defence advocate Edith Forrest who told the court of her client’s shame and remorse for his actions.
Judge Tait said: “Ms Anderson was entirely blameless. She was a 23-year-old woman who was a part of a close and loving family.
“Her family are greatly affected by her loss – they found it difficult to provide a Victim Impact Statement but I have read about the impact that her loss has had upon each family member.
“I have listened to everything which has been said to me on your behalf by your counsel. I take into account your expressions of remorse.
“However, this is a very serious offence and I have concluded that a custodial sentence is the only way to deal with this matter.
“The appropriate sentence in this case will be one of six years.”
Earlier this year, jurors heard how Ward, of Kirkwall, Orkney, had passed his driving test in March 2019. On the day of the collision, he had spent the morning at a job interview at a fish farm.
He left the farm and got back into his car which he had owned for one month.
Witnesses told the car he was in “high spirits” and started listening to music when he started his journey.
The journey between the fish farm and the crash site was approximately three and a half minutes.
Engineer Robert Wetherall, of London, was holidaying in Orkney with his partner Diane Stanning on the day of the crash and saw Ward driving at high speeds.
He said he was driving at 40mph and he estimated that Ward overtook him at about 60mph.
He added: “I remember saying to Dianne ‘where’s the fire?’.”
Mr Wetherall said he lost sight of the BMW soon afterwards. But he told the court that he soon saw smoke.
He added: “I said to Diane, ‘the silly sod’s only gone and crashed.’”
Today, Ms Forrest told the court that Ward is undergoing counselling and told the author of the report of his feelings about the prospect of prison.
She added: “He told the author of the Criminal Justice Social Work Report that he is terrified of a prison sentence.”
Ms Forrest told judge Tait that he has continually expressed remorse for how Ms Anderson died.
She added: “Mr Ward again asks me to express an apology to the family of Ms Anderson.
“It may not be welcome or wanted but he wishes me to express his condolences to the family.
“He feels deep remorse and he thinks about the incident on a daily basis but accepts that it will be minimal in comparison to the feelings of loss that will be experienced by Ms Anderson’s family.
“He also feels a deep sense of shame and it is something that he feels on a daily basis living in a small community.”
However, judge Tait told Ward there was no alternative to custody.
She also spoke to members of Ms Anderson’s family who were present in court.
Judge Tait added: “I express my condolences to the family of Ms Anderson.”