A killer driver whose moment of forgetfulness led to the death of a married biker after the teenager doubled back to collect a friend he had forgotten to pick up was today spared jail.
Matthew Jamieson, then 19, had been taking two pals from Carnoustie to Dundee when he realised he was also meant to have been giving a lift to another friend.
He turned off of a main road, did a three point turn and returned to the junction of the A930 and Station Road, Barry, to head back to Carnoustie – only to pull his Volkswagen Golf into the path of a motorcycle being ridden by Graeme Bell.
The two vehicles collided – sending Mr Bell, a motorcycle salesman, somersaulting through the air and leaving him with fatal injuries.
Despite the immediate attention of a passing senior intensive care nurse and a firefighter Mr Bell – decribed as “one in a million” by family – died at the side of the road.
Mr Bell’s family had earlier called for Jamieson to be locked up – but a sheriff ruled the accident was caused by a “momentary lapse” by him and said a custodial sentence was “not appropriate”.
Jamieson was instead given a community payback order and banned from driving for four years.
Fiscal depute John Adams told Dundee Sheriff Court that Jamieson, who had held a full licence for only a year at the time, had told police the accident had happened moments after he had doubled back to retrieve a friend in Carnoustie.
He said a witness travelling east towards Carnoustie saw the collision take place.
Mr Bell’s motorcycle was travelling West coming out of Carnoustie and estimated his speed at between 50 and 60mph – within the speed limit at the location.
He said when Jamieson’s car pulled out in front of the bike, Mr Bell started to move out to avoid the car but collided with the front offside corner of the Golf.
Mr Adams said: “He describes the motorcyclist as doing a somersault on to the road.
“The ambulance services were contacted immediately and passers-by, including the nurse and firefighter, stopped to give assistance.
“They could find no pulse or signs of life and commenced CPR, which they continued until the paramedics arrived.”
Mr Bell was pronounced dead at the scene at 3.01pm.
Mr Adams added: “The accused spoke to his girlfriend’s mother on his mobile phone after the collision. He was noted to be upset and crying and stated to her something along the lines of, ‘The biker pulled out in front of me’ or ‘The biker came out in front of me.’
“A roadside breathalyser was found to be negative.
“The accused was seen to be shocked but lucid.
“The accused commented to police that he had been driving from Carnoustie towards Dundee when he remembered that he had to pick up another friend in Carnoustie.
“He turned into Station Road and performed a three-point turn further down the road before coming back to the junction.
“He turned right back towards Carnoustie and his vehicle was struck at that time.”
A skid mark on the road suggested Mr Bell’s motorcycle had braked sharply, suggesting the speed of the vehicle at the time was between 45mph and 57mph, although it would have decelerated before causing the mark.
The distance Mr Bell was thrown from his machine suggested the vehicle’s speed was between 39mph and 53mph, he added.
Jamieson, 20, of Burnside Street, Carnoustie, pleaded guilty on indictment to a charge of causing death by careless driving on November 3 2017 on the A930 Carnoustie to Monifieth Road at the junction of Station Road, Barry.
Defence advocate Gavin Anderson said Jamieson was “truly sorry” for causing the crash.
He added: “This was a catastrophic error of judgement for which his carelessness was responsible.
“What occurred that day was a frightening and shocking event for all concerned and resulted in the loss of a life.
“He accepts that through his careless act he caused this collision.”
Sheriff Gregor Murray imposed a community payback order wtih 185 hours unpaid work and disqualified Jamieson from driving for four years.
He said: “You are aged 20 now and are regarded as a young offender in the eyes of the law and you may not be ordered to serve a custodial sentence unless there is no other appropriate way of dealing with you.
“The facts all point to this being a tragic incident of an unplanned offence – an accident, albeit one with tragic, unforeseen and long lasting consequences.
“It was caused by a moment’s inattention on your part.
“A custodial sentence is not appropriate in this case.”
Mr Bell’s family did not comment as they left court.
In an earlier statement, released through solicitors Digby Brown, they called on Jamieson to be imprisoned.
They said: “Graeme was a loving son, brother, husband, grandson and family man.
“Every single day we are heartbroken at the loss of such an important, bright and irreplaceable member of our family.
“We 100% believe the driver deserves to be jailed for what he did.
“He killed someone. He took a life.
“In the meantime, we hope what happened to Graeme serves as a tragic reminder about the need to simply be decent people and consider the needs of other road users.”
Speaking after his death, his wife Jenni said: “He was my world and I was his but there was still plenty room for his passion for his beloved bikes.
“He was the best and he has been taken from us all too soon.”