South Scotland

Bo'ness man jailed over Kelso couple's deaths at Carfraemill

An IT consultant from Bo'ness has been jailed for causing the deaths of a Kelso couple by dangerous driving on a rural Borders road.

James Mitchell, 48, admitted committing the offence on the A697 near Carfraemill in December 2012.

Derek Peoples, 53, and his 51-year-old wife, Avril, suffered fatal injuries as a result of the collision.

A judge at the High Court in Glasgow told Mitchell he accepted he felt "real remorse" but jailed him for 44 months.

A court had previously heard how Mitchell was on the wrong side of the road overtaking a lorry when he crashed his Hyundai car into Mr People's Kia.

The Kelso couple had been married for 31 years and were returning from a weekend visiting friends when the collision happened.

They died within an hour of each other.

Mitchell admitted to police at the crash scene that he caused the collision, saying: "It was me, yes."

He described his overtaking manoeuvre as "a colossal error in judgement" and has vowed that he will never drive again.

Sentencing Mitchell, judge John Beckett QC told him: "I accept you have shown and felt real remorse.

"It is clear that you are highly regarded by your family and those you worked for.

"You have raised money for charity and your driving is described as normally careful and responsible."

However, the judge told him that when he began to overtake the lorry he could not have had a clear view.

"You made an extremely rash and dangerous overtaking manoeuvre," he said.

"Mr Peoples, who was driving in the opposite direction, found himself with nowhere to go.

"He and his wife had no warning there was about to be a head-on crash."

'Momentary lapse'

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, told the court that the crash happened seconds after Mitchell pulled out to overtake a lorry.

He said that the force of the collision pushed the silver Kia backwards and into the verge.

Mrs Peoples died in the back of an ambulance while her husband died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary about an hour later.

They had two children and one grandchild.

Collision investigators concluded that Mitchell should not have overtaken the lorry because he did not have a clear view of oncoming traffic.

Solicitor advocate, Euan Roy, defending, said: "At the time he thought he was able to see the road in front of him and that gave him a false sense of confidence.

"Once he had committed to the manoeuvre there was no way to get back in.

"This was a momentary lapse - he is very remorseful."

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