A hit-and-run drink driver fled the scene after smashing into a car, leaving four people injured, on the busiest road in Angus.
Andrew Gentleman, who was still four times over the alcohol limit when he was eventually breath-tested four hours after the horrific A90 crash, was sent to prison for 21 months on Tuesday.
He was also banned from driving for four-and-a-half years, ordered to re-sit an extended driving test, and made subject to a ten-month supervised release order.
The incident took place on the southbound A90 at the Lochlands junction.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard how Gentleman, who was driving his work van, fled the scene leaving four people – including two young children – injured. All four needed hospital treatment.
The 52-year-old tyre fitter admitted driving dangerously and causing severe injury and permanent impairment to Louise Louden, 38, on July 27 last year.
He also admitted drink driving on the A90 Aberdeen to Dundee road.
Sheriff Lorna Drummond noted tyre fitter Gentleman had two previous drink driving convictions and had caused life changing injuries to one of his victims.
She said: “This is a very serious matter and I am bound to take account of the culpability of the driving.
“You crossed the carriageway without recognising cars were coming in the opposite direction.
“The consequences for your victims, particularly Louise Louden, were serious.
“She sustained multiple fractures, needed two operations, spent a lot of time in hospital, has scarring on her hip and has back pain and restricted movement.
“You have two previous convictions for drink driving. There is no alternative other than custody.”
The court was shown dashcam footage of Gentleman cutting across a junction in his Berlingo van without stopping and ramming into the Ford Fiesta.
Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told the court Mrs Lowden’s daughter Chloe, 19, was driving the car and two young children, aged five and three, were in the back.
She said: “He manoeuvred the van into the overtaking lane and into the turning lane to cross the southbound carriageway.
“The accused did not stop in the central reservation and drove across the southbound carriageway directly into the path of Chloe Lowden’s vehicle.
“The Fiesta was travelling at 65-70 mph. She braked but the collision was unavoidable. The force of the collision caused both vehicles to spin.”
A witness said: “I watched as the Berlingo van crossed the Fiesta’s path, but there was absolutely no way the Fiesta driver could have avoided it.”
As members of the public rushed to help the Lowdens, Gentleman fled the scene by driving the wrong way up the slip road at the Forfar junction.
Gentleman, from Haugh Street, Bainsford, Falkirk, was traced sometime later in Lochlands Caravan Park and confirmed he had been driving the van. He told police: “I had a few halves after.”
— Traffic Scotland (@trafficscotland) July 27, 2019
He told the doctor treating him that he had been drinking before the crash and a witness said he had appeared drunk at 11.30am – over two hours beforehand.
Although he was not formally breath tested until almost four hours after the crash, Gentleman still gave a reading of 92 mics, over the 22 mics legal limit.
Miss Robertson told the court Chloe Lowden had a number of injuries but added her mother had sustained the most serious injuries, including fractures to her spine, sternum, pelvis, wrist and finger.
She spent 12 days in hospital and was left scarred for life, with restricted movement in her hand and persistent back pain. The court was told the victims suffered post-traumatic stress.
Solicitor Brian Bell, defending, said: “The physical injuries do seem as bad as they can be. He had been drinking into the early hours and felt he was OK to drive.
“He took the silly decision to drive the car. During the journey he felt ill and tired and decided to return back to the caravan site.
“He comes to the slip road and doesn’t slow down. He doesn’t stop and drives into the path of the southbound car which has no opportunity to avoid him. He is considered to be at high risk of reoffending because of his alcohol difficulties.”
The turn-off has been the scene of a number of serious and fatal accidents.
Speaking following the incident in 2019, Monifieth and Sidlaws councillor Craig Fotheringham said: “I think we need to be realistic and accept that a flyover won’t be built there but there is definitely a need to look again at what might be done, and reducing the speed limit would be one simple measure which could potentially save someone’s life.
“As a regular user of the junction I am comfortable heading south out of Forfar and joining the dual carriageway, but crossing back over it when you are coming into the town is a different matter.
“It only needs someone to stall their vehicle and it could be catastrophe.”