Glasgow & West Scotland

Vincent Friel convicted of dangerous driving over fatal Glasgow crash

Vincent Friel Image copyright Ciaran Donnelly
Image caption Vincent Friel claimed he had passed out behind the wheel of his 4x4 before running over two women

A man who claimed he fainted at the wheel before running over a woman at a pedestrian crossing has been convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

Vincent Friel crashed into Charlotte Collins, 68, and her cousin Margaret Haldane near the Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow in January 2014.

The 44-year-old said he had fainted and was not in control of his actions.

Jurors rejected his defence and found Friel guilty of driving dangerously. He will be sentenced in March.

Judge John Morris QC warned the businessman that a custodial sentence was "inevitable".

Ms Collins, who lived in the city's Pollok area, died in hospital shortly after the crash on Barrhead Road on 18 January, 2014.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Friel, of Rutherglen, was taking blood pressure medication at the time and had also taken Viagra and painkillers.

His lawyers claimed the combination of medications had caused his blood pressure to drop, causing him to faint at the wheel. They claimed this meant there was not enough evidence to convict Friel, saying he was not in control of his actions at the time of the crash.

Proceedings restarted

The court heard from one doctor, described as a world-renowned expert in his field, who said it was "likely or possible" that Friel had suffered a "vasovagal" episode, another term for a faint.

However, cardiologist Dr Andrew Flapan told jurors he thought it was "extremely unlikely" that Friel had fainted at the wheel of his 4x4.

He pointed to the fact Friel looked normal after the crash and was able to reverse his car off one of the women and use his mobile phone to call for an ambulance, saying he would not be able to do these things for at least 20 minutes after fainting.

The trial originally began in January but had to be halted after a jury member fainted during Dr Flapan's evidence, and had to be given treatment by the doctor in the courtroom. The trial had to be restarted with a new jury over fears the incident could have prejudiced the case against Friel.

Friel himself said he had been "devastated" by the crash, saying: "It has affected me greatly. I can't believe any of this. It could have been my own mother."

After deliberating for 100 minutes, the jury of nine women and six men rejected Friel's defence and found him guilty of killing Ms Collins and injuring her cousin due to his dangerous driving.

He will be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on 16 March.

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