A motorist who caused the death of a man in a caravan park collision, after inviting his unqualified girlfriend “to have a go at driving”, was jailed for 12 months in a “unique case”.
Former shepherd Nathaniel Cooper, 31, was earlier convicted by a jury of causing death by dangerous driving and a judge told him he would impose a minimum term of imprisonment.
Cooper’s co-accused Kylie Johnston, who had earlier admitted the offence, was spared a prison term and ordered to carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work under a community payback order.
Johnston, 27, who was uninsured and did not hold a driving licence, was sitting in Cooper’s lap in the driver’s seat when they lost control of the Daihatsu Terios.
It hit Andrew MacKay, 65, who had stepped out of his caravan for fresh air.
At the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Stewart said it was a “tragedy” and added: “I accept that both offenders are genuinely deeply remorseful.
“They understand Mr MacKay’s partner, family and friends must have suffered and will be suffering.”
He told Cooper and Johnston, who were both first offenders: “This seems to be a unique case.”
The Crown alleged that both had caused the death of Mr MacKay, who was on holiday at the East Balthangie caravan park at Cuminestown, in Aberdeenshire, by dangerous driving on July 21 2013 by both driving a Daihatsu Terios and by failing to keep proper control of the vehicle, which crossed a grassy area, crashed through a fence and hit the victim.
Mr MacKay, a retired plumber from Renton, Dunbartonshire, suffered fatal chest injuries.
The court heard that Johnston, of Newbigging Drive, Stonehaven, had been distraught following the incident and was in tears as she was sentenced.
Mr MacKay’s partner Mary Dobbin, 58, said Johnston was visibly upset and physically sick after the collision.
Father-of-two Cooper, of Queens Road, Inverbervie, Kincardineshire, tried to help the victim after the crash.
Cooper and Johnston had gone out in the 4×4 to buy cigarettes and sweets and were returning to the caravan park when the fateful decision was taken to allow Johnston to get behind the wheel.
A turning manoeuvre went wrong, the car accelerated to about 20mph and the brakes were not applied.
Lord Stewart said prior to the fatal incident Cooper, who later admitted he had made “a stupid, daft mistake”, had invited Johnston to sit on his lap and have a go at driving.
The judge pointed out the offence they were convicted of carried a maximum prison term of 14 years but said features that appear in other cases such as driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, or excessive speed, were not present.
Lord Stewart said he had given “very anxious consideration” to alternatives to custody in the case as neither Cooper nor Johnston had been assessed as posing a material risk of reoffending.
“There is likely to be a damages claim arising from the event,” he added.
Defence counsel David Moggach, for Cooper, said: “He expresses genuine and deep remorse for his actions. He is truly sorry for what happened.”
He said Cooper believed Johnston knew the “rudiments of driving” and would be able to control the car.
“Once it became apparent that Mr MacKay had been struck by the vehicle and was unfortunately trapped under the vehicle, he did all in his powers to render assistance to him,” he said.
Mr Moggach argued the case was at the lower end of seriousness for offences of causing death by dangerous driving.
Defence counsel Ronnie Renucci, for Johnston, said his client had “deep, deep regret” and was fully aware of the consequences of her lack of judgment on the occasion.