A retired welder was killed instantly in a fatal crash when an 81-year-old driver drifted on to the opposite side of the north’s busiest road.
James Thain, 63, was fatally injured in the multi-vehicle collision on the A9 in Ross-shire in 2019.
On Thursday, octogenarian Stuart Blaire was fined £3,000 after earlier admitting causing Mr Thain’s death by careless driving.
Sheriff Gary Aitken said : “The one thing I cannot do is make things any better. I cannot turn the clock back or change what happened or the appalling consequences.
“My duty is to impose a penalty on you for your failure – it was a moment of carelessness which has had truly appalling consequences for Mr Thain, his family and your family. It will be with you and them for the rest of your lives. But it is not the function of the court to put a value on human life.”
Sheriff Aitken ruled out custody, unpaid work or a restriction of liberty order, after a plea by defence counsel Susan Duff.
Instead, he said a “substantial fine” would be imposed on the driver in connection with the fatal crash.
He fined Blaire, formerly of Helmsdale and now of Sunnyside View, Kintore, £3,000, disqualified him from driving for four years and ordered him to resit the extended test of competency.
Blaire was also injured in the incident about half a mile from the Skiach junction on July 20, 2019.
Ms Duff told the Sheriff that her client – who was injured in the July 20, 2019, crash – had surrendered his licence immediately after the accident and vowed never to drive again.
Fiscal depute Iain Gray said Blaire moved about a metre on to the opposite carriageway as if to overtake on a sweeping bend with unrestricted views and Mr Thain, from Invergordon, tried to avoid the collision.
He said subsequent investigations showed that no alcohol or physical impairment affected Blaire, there were no mechanical defects to his Vauxhall Vectra and he was not unwell.
Ms Duff told the court that driver Blaire didn’t know what had happened in the lead-up to the fatal crash.
She added that he was returning a hired car after a holiday in England to visit his dying brother, who passed away two weeks after.
“He has asked me again to pass on his deepest condolences to Mr Thain’s family. He is acutely aware of the distress he has caused and will have recurring thoughts of it for the rest of his life.”
She asked the sheriff to accept that since there were no aggravating factors, that the driver’s culpability was at the lower end of the scale in relation to the fatal crash, “but tragically the consequences were catastrophic. He wants to make amends but he can’t.”