Teacher banned from road over crash near Denholm that killed mum of four

Mum-of-four Kirsty Parker.
Mum-of-four Kirsty Parker.

A primary school teacher has been banned from the road after admitting causing the death of a mother of four by careless driving.

Three of Kirsty Parker’s children were in the car when it was involved in the head-on collision with a Peugeot 207 driven by Roddy Graham that left her dead.

Floral tributes left beside the A698 for Kirsty Parker.

Floral tributes left beside the A698 for Kirsty Parker.

Jedburgh Sheriff Court was told a “momentary lack of attention” resulted in Graham, 28, swerving into the opposite carriageway to avoid colliding with a van and into the path of Ms Parker’s Vauxhall Zafira.

His lawyer, Ed Hulme, explained that his client had not noticed the van he was following from a safe distance slowing down to turn right into a junction because its brake lights were not working.

He said that at that moment the sun reflected in his eyes from his rear-view mirror, so he then adjusted it.

Mr Hulme said: “When he looked up, the rear of the van was coming towards him, and there was no time to avoid a collision.

“He pulled over to one side as he did not think anything was coming, but, of course, there was.”

He added: “The lack of brake lights onthe van is a major factor here.”

Mr Hulme said that Graham did not recall seeing an indicator light at the time either.

He explained that it had been an unfortunate series of events resulting in “devastating consequences”.

Graham, of Denholm, sustained various fractures and was off work for four months, and he had not driven since, said Mr Hulme.

Ms Parker, 34, suffered a fatal neck injury, and her three sons – aged one, nine and 12 at the time – suffered minor injuries in the collision on the A698 Hawick-Tweedmouth road near Denholm on the afternoon of Thursday, February 11, last year.

Graham was disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to carry out 90 hours’ unpaid work as part of a one-year community payback order imposed as a direct alternative to custody.

Sheriff Peter Paterson explained that in passing sentence in such cases, though not ignoring the tragic consequences, it is the level of criminality that has to be taken into account.

He told the court: “The first thing I have to say is that the court extends its sincere condolences to all members of the family affected by this tragic event.

“When considering a sentence, the court is primarily concerned with the criminality involved.

“The court does not disregard the consequences, however, but is primarily looking at the degree of wrongfulness involved.

“If the driving was dangerous or of a wilful nature, then that makes the criminality higher.

“There was a momentary lack of attention that I have to accept and also to reflect that in the sentence.”

Ms Parker, a former waitress originally from Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway, was due to get married inSeptember last year to her fiance Chris Hartdegen.