A driver who caused the death of an award-winning care home chef as he changed a tyre at the side of the A90 has been told he faces an “inevitable” jail sentence.
Dangerous driver Graham Smith failed to keep a proper look-out on the A90 and struck John Grover with a Ford Transit van.
Mr Grover, who was also a Black Watch veteran, died at the scene after sustaining multiple injuries.
Dive technician Smith, 59, of Cairness, near Fraserburgh, admitted causing the death by driving dangerously on December 16 2021.
He failed to spot Mr Grover or his car as he changed the tyre on the carriageway north of Aberdeen, did not take evasive action and collided with the 62-year-old.
At the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lord Arthurson told him: “You pled guilty to an extremely serious charge and prison is inevitable.”
He adjourned sentence on the first offender for the preparation of a background report and continued his bail.
He imposed an interim driving ban.
Army veteran and father-of-two
Advocate depute Chris McKenna told the court Mr Grover was born and grew up in the Rosyth area.
He said: “On leaving school he joined the Army and was attached to the Black Watch, Royal Regiment of Scotland, where he served for 24 years, mainly as a chef.
“During his time in the Army, he met his now-ex-wife, with whom he had two children.”
He continued to work as a chef after leaving military service and was living with his partner at New Pitsligo.
Crash tragedy recounted in court
On the day of the fatal incident he was working at a care home in Bridge of Don and was returning home in his Hyundai i40 when he called his partner to tell her he had a puncture and he intended to stop and change the tyre on the Aberdeen to Peterhead road.
He pulled over to the side of the carriageway, near Foveran, with his offside wheels encroaching about a metre into the roadway and activated his hazard warning lights.
Mr McKenna said: “At the time of the collision it was daylight with good visibility.
“The weather was fine and dry.”
Collision investigators concluded Mr Grover’s car would have been visible for about 450 metres.
He got the spare wheel and tools from his boot and as he was changing the tyre he was positioned in lane one of the northbound carriageway.
A witness who was driving a minibus full of school children was driving behind Smith’s Transit van and saw the stationary car further ahead and Mr Grover crouching down at the front side.
Mr McKenna said: “There were no vehicles driving in front of the accused’s van… he should have had a clear view of the deceased.
“There were no vehicles stopping the accused from moving into lane two.”
Instead, Smith continued to drive in lane one.
The prosecutor said: “He failed to react in any way to the presence of Mr Grover and his car.
“He did not take any evasive action.
“The accused’s van struck Mr Grover as it passed the stationary car.”
The minibus driver pulled up to call emergency services.
Desperate attempts to help
Passersby, including off-duty paramedics and a police officer, stopped to help the injured man.
Smith approached one witness and said: “I didn’t see him.”
Mr McKenna said Mr Grover was initially conscious and breathing but his condition deteriorated rapidly and he went into cardiac arrest.
Extensive emergency medical treatment was carried out on him but proved futile.
The court heard Smith helped his wife, who runs a catering firm, and it was understood he was returning from making a delivery at the time of the collision.
Defence counsel David Nicolson said of him: “He has been a useful member of society.
“He too has been in the armed forces.”
He asked for Smith’s bail to be continued and added: “He knows what is going to happen.
“He is under no illusions as to what is going to happen at the end of the day.”
Award winner loved by care home residents
In 2021 John Grover was crowned the best care home chef in Scotland for his work in Barchester’s Fairview House in Danestone, Aberdeen.
Staff and residents nominated him for the nutrition and eating well category of the Scottish Care Home Awards but he was killed before he could be announced as the winner.
His partner Lilias Wright collected the posthumous award and said nothing gave Mr Grover more satisfaction than seeing residents enjoying their meals.