No jail for man who caused fatal bus crash

RTA, Edinburgh Road, Belhaven, Seven people have been injured following a collision between a single-decker bus and car just outside Dunbar in East Lothian.
RTA, Edinburgh Road, Belhaven, Seven people have been injured following a collision between a single-decker bus and car just outside Dunbar in East Lothian.

A Cockburnspath man whose careless driving caused the death of an elderly ex-serviceman in a traffic accident has avoided prison.

Colin Snell,69, failed to stop at a give way sign at a junction on the A1087 road near Dunbar on September 18, 2013.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how Snell travelled on and struck a passing bus. The force of the collision caused the single decker to hit a nearby cottage.

The accident caused bus passenger Alexander Shiell, 79, to be thrown from his seat and strike a handrail before landing in the aisle.

Mr Shiell, who served with the RAF, subsequently died from his injuries at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary hospital in February last year.

On Thursday, Snell was handed 200 hours community service and banned from driving for three years by Sheriff Thomas Welsh.

The Sheriff told Snell that his good character and his age meant that he didn’t have to impose a jail sentence.

Sheriff Welsh said: “I have no doubt that driving displaying the level of carelessness and the degree of culpability for which you are responsible would in the absence of an alternative means of disposal attract a custodial sentence.

“However, I must be satisfied custody is the only appropriate disposal before I can impose it. Given your age, your previous good character and driving record, I am satisfied that there is an alternative punishment to custody.”

The story emerged last month when Mr Snell pleaded guilty to a charge of causing the death of Mr Shiell, of East Linton, East Lothian, by driving without undue care and attention.

At earlier proceedings, depute procurator fiscal Graeme Jessop told Sheriff Thomas Welsh that the collision happened at 10.13am when road conditions were good.

In November 2013, the court heard how Mr Snell attended Dalkeith police station with his solicitor to be interviewed by police officers.

Mr Jessop said: “When interviewed he advised he had picked up his wife from the swimming pool at Dunbar and was intending to drive to Dunfermline. He stated that he had travelled along Shore Road twice before and was not that familiar with the area.

“However, he was familiar with the give way junction at the crossroads and the relevant signs and markings.

“He was asked whether he had seen the bus and replied “when it hit me, yes.””