A speeding drink driver who killed his friend in a horrific crash after he got fed up waiting for a taxi was jailed for nine years today.
A judge told Murray Geddes: “You pled guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. Those words are barely adequate to describe the offence.”
Lord Glennie told him that he knew when he set off that he was unfit to drive and that was why he had called a taxi.
The judge said at the High Court in Edinburgh: “You have lost a close friend, but his family have lost a son, a brother, a husband and a father.”
Lord Glennie said he had read victim impact statements that were prepared and said they were “clearly devastated”.
He added: “I accept the genuineness of your remorse.” He told Geddes that he would have jailed him for 11 years, but for his guilty plea.
He also disqualified Geddes from driving for 12 years and said the ban would continue until he passed a test.
Geddes told police after the fatal collision that claimed the life of Graeme McKenzie that he had taken his powerful, two litre Audi S3 from the pub because he was “fed up waiting for a taxi”.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard that the offshore worker said to officers: “I can’t remember anything that happened after that.”
One witness who was overtaken by Geddes said: “I thought to myself that I should have taken note of his number and called the police as I thought he would kill someone.”
Another motorist said: “It was such a crazy piece of driving that the dust from the road surface was being thrown up into the air to about the height of the trees. I really do not know what possessed him to drive like that.”
Another witness told police that he became aware of the black Audi coming towards him at “a shockingly fast speed”. He said: “It was if it was jittering, like you see the rally cars as they try to keep it on track.”
When members of the public went to the aid of Geddes who was trapped in the driver’s seat of the crashed car he was initially unconscious, but came to and was heard to say: “I am drunk.”
Mr McKenzie, who was a front seat passenger in the car, was thrown from the vehicle and died from a serious head injury which would have been “instantaneously fatal”, the court heard.
Geddes (37) of Linn Brae, Aberlour, in Banffshire, admitted causing the death of Mr McKenzie, the father of a 12-year-old boy, by driving dangerously on May 16 this year on the A941 Craigellachie to Rothes road, in Morayshire, after consuming excess alcohol.
He overtook when it was unsafe, drove close to a vehicle in front and drove at excessive speed for the road conditions and lost control of the car which left the road.
Advocate depute Andrew Brown QC said offshore driller Geddes had a speeding conviction from March this year for driving the car at 93 mph in a 60 mph zone of the A96 near Huntly which resulted in him being fined £350 and having penalty points put on his licence.
The prosecutor said: “The accused and the deceased were close friends who grew up together in the Speyside area.”
Prior to the crash Geddes and Mr McKenzie (38) who also worked offshore, had been at the Aberlour Hotel about four and a half miles from the scene of the fatality.
Mr Brown said both men had clearly been drinking already and Geddes bought himself a vodka and lemonade and ordered a malt whisky and stood others in the bar a drink.
After they left the hotel and drove off a lorry driver became aware of the Audi behind him. It overtook him and caught up with two other vehicles ahead of him.
It overtook the first vehicle, crossing a solid white line, and went between them. The driver of the front car, Maureen Imray, became aware of the Audi close behind her.
She told police: “The car then just pulled out and passed me. I would say it was like a speed demon.”
“It was such a crazy piece of driving that the dust from the road surface was being thrown up into the air to about the height of the trees. I really do not know what possessed him to drive like that.”
Her passenger, Lynsay Burns, said it was overtaking them “at a ridiculous speed, it was horrific””.
Duncan Gaylor had just left Rothes when he became aware of a black car coming towards him at “a shockingly fast speed”. He said: “It passed me at a speed that I estimated in my own mind to be about 95 mph.”.
In his rear view mirror he saw the Audi appear to lose control and hit a verge causing a cloud of dust and debris to rise.
Mr Brown said another witness, Ian Poole, was also travelling south when he became aware of a black car coming towards him at high speed.
The prosecutor said: “He saw the black car fail to negotiate the right hand bend and leave the road to the west. It became airborne by at least 10 feet, and possibly up to 20 feet, as well as spinning three times.”
Geddes was cut free from the wreckage by firefighters. He was taken to hospital and treated for a fractured wrist. A blood sample was taken and a calculation carried out which meant that the most likely reading was that he was double the drink driving limit.
Crash investigators reached the view that Geddes had failed to maintain the proper line through the bend on the road and the vehicle left the carriageway demolishing a sign, entering a ditch and striking a tree stump.
Defence counsel David Moggach said Geddes was a hard working man who had tried to make the most of opportunities in life.
He said the accident victim was a close and long-standing friend. “It is something he will never forget. He will live with the consequences of this for the remainder of his life,” he added.