Glasgow & West Scotland

Bin lorry crash driver Harry Clarke admits reckless driving charge

Harry Clarke Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption Harry Clarke was appearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court

The driver of the bin lorry that crashed in Glasgow killing six people has admitted culpable and reckless driving in a separate incident.

Harry Clarke, 60, had his licence withdrawn for medical reasons in the months following the bin lorry crash on 22 December 2014.

He pleaded guilty to driving a car nine months later, despite knowing he was unfit to drive.

Clarke was not prosecuted over the bin lorry crash.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court on Friday, Clarke admitted driving a car on 20 September 2015 in the knowledge that he had suffered a loss of consciousness while at the wheel of a moving refuse collection vehicle the previous December.

The charge stated he also knew he had suffered a loss of consciousness or episode of altered awareness while at the wheel of a stationary bus on 7 April 2010.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

Image caption (Clockwise from top left) Jack Sweeney, Lorraine Sweeney, Erin McQuade, Jacqueline Morton, Stephenie Tait and Gillian Ewing were killed in the crash

Clarke's licence had been revoked for 12 months on 27 June 2015 and the charge stated that he knew or ought to have known that he was unfit to drive, and that there was a risk he might lose consciousness or suffer an episode of altered awareness while driving.

Procurator fiscal depute Mark Allan told Glasgow Sheriff Court that Clarke's neighbours had seen him in the car park outside his house then saw him get into his white Corsa.

He said: "After watching for between 30 seconds and two minutes, both witnesses saw the accused enter into the driver's seat, switch on the exterior lights and drive out of the car park onto Buchanan Street."

He said Clarke returned about two hours later at about 22:15.

'Back and forward'

He added: "He went round to either the passenger door or boot and retrieved some carrier bags from the car before leaving the car and walking to his home address."

Two days later when Clarke was cautioned and charged by police he replied: "I have never been out on a public road. I have just moved the car in the private car park."

The court was also told Clarke later phoned his insurance company and told them his licence was revoked in June "on medical grounds".

He told them about the allegation of driving and said "I do move it but it's private property so I just moved it back and forward just to kind of keep the wheels turning a wee bit, I said, but certainly I wasn't out driving in the road."

In relation to the 2014 bin lorry crash, the Crown Office insisted there was insufficient evidence to raise criminal proceedings against Clarke.

However, in a rare legal move, relatives of three crash victims sought permission from senior judges to bring charges against him in a private prosecution.

Despite that, judges at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh ruled in November last year that the family could not launch a private prosecution.

Jack and Lorraine Sweeney, 68 and 69, and their granddaughter Erin McQuade, 18, Stephenie Tait, 29, Jacqueline Morton, 51, and Gillian Ewing, 52, died in the incident.

The subsequent fatal accident inquiry heard Clarke had a history of health issues but had not disclosed his medical background to his employers or the DVLA.

It also emerged that Clarke had previously blacked out while working as a bus driver but failed to disclose it when he became a bin lorry driver with Glasgow City Council.

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