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Driver Keith McCardle jailed for drink-drive killing of Gavin Fulton

January 10, 2014 5:35 PM
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Driver Keith McCardle jailed for drink-drive killing of Gavin Fulton

A drink driver who killed a father of two after swerving onto the pavement has been jailed for five years.

Keith McCardle, 51, was driving home from an Edinburgh bar, where he said he had consumed "perhaps" four alcoholic drinks.

His Land Rover Freelander hit 43-year-old Gavin Fulton, who had been walking home from a night out.

Outside court, Mr Fulton's father said drink driving led to a "sickening carousel of misery".

Three hours later, McCardle gave two breath tests, the lower of which showed he had 63mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.

Passing sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lord Doherty told McCardle: "You lost control of your vehicle and collided with Mr Fulton as he walked on the pavement in Dundas Street.

"Your dangerous driving ended Mr Fulton's life. It has caused inestimable damage to the lives of his family and others. No sentence that I can impose can undo that damage."

McCardle was also banned from driving for eight years, after which he will need to re-sit his test.

The judge said he would have imposed a sentence of six years, with a ten year driving ban, were it not for McCardle's guilty plea.

He added: "As has been said by a very senior judge 'Everyone knows or should know that the consumption of small quantities of alcohol undermines the ability of any driver to apply his full concentration to the road'.

"In my opinion your culpability is substantial because you decided to take the risk of driving when you knew you had consumed the quantities of alcohol which you had.

"I have listened to all that has been said on your behalf. Prior to this offence you had a good work record and you had only three previous convictions.

"I am in no doubt however that the gravity of the offence requires that I impose a substantial prison sentence."

McCardle, from East Lothian, had been drinking at Bennets Bar in Edinburgh's Tollcross with his now wife, Donna, and sister Lorna McCardle on the night of the crash.

They left the bar at 01:00 and picked up his vehicle in nearby Tarvit Street before he started driving his sister to her home in East Claremont Street.

Witnesses said they saw his car zigzagging all over the road in Dundas Street in an "erratic manner and out of control".

After the collision, McCardle got out of his car and told a passer-by: "I killed him. I hit the guy and he's dead."

Defence advocate Tony Lenehan said McCardle was genuinely remorseful for getting behind the wheel of his car after drinking.

Mr Lenehan said his client had started drinking heavily when his brother David died after being assaulted in the Clubhouse Bar in Musselburgh two years ago.

He added: "It was against that background that drink became a crutch to Mr McCardle. Mr McCardle's marriage had also came to an end.

"He had became distant from his family and friends and had withdrawn from social occasions. However, he felt he had addressed that issue.

"On the night in question he felt sober and he judged it safe to drive home. He knows there is no sentence that can reduce the grief and suffering of the deceased's family and friends.

Speaking outside court, Mr Fulton's father Bill, 73, said people who drink and drive have "absolutely no respect for the right of others to live a safe life".

He added: "Tragedies like the one we're enduring start with somebody believing that they're super human and immune to the effects of alcohol and are fit to drive their car when they are not.

"Suddenly they crash their car and kill an innocent person and in that second that person is gone, their life is finished and they cannot be replaced.

"The victim's family is ripped apart forever, unlike the offender's sentence that ends in a defined time allowing another life to be planned and enjoyed."

He said the sentence handed down by Lord Doherty properly punished McCardle, but said it "also punishes his family and friends so the sickening carousel of misery continues to a wider group of people who do not deserve it."

"All our family are left with now is the hope that today's sentence will stop someone somewhere from drinking and driving so saving another innocent life and another innocent family from the trauma that we have had to endure", he said.

"I beg you - please do not drink and drive. The enduring memory that we have of Gavin is of a person who was happy, friendly and most of all helpful who never expected anything in return.

"He was always there for family and friends when he was needed be it to offer advice, give support or just to loan a pair of hands. The world is a sadder place."


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