An IT consultant from Bo’ness looks set to receive a lengthy prison sentence as a result of his dangerous driving which caused the deaths of a couple who had been married for 31 years.
James Mitchell,(48), drove his red Hyundai i30 motor car head on into a silver Kia Cee’d being driven in the opposite direction by Derek Peoples (54), on December 23, 2012. His wife Avril (52), was travelling with him on the A697 road one mile south of Carfraemill near Greenlaw in the Scottish Borders.
Paramedics battled to save Mr and Mrs Peoples’ lives - but they died within an hour of each other after being freed from their wrecked vehicle by emergency service crews.
The court heard that, when police questioned Mr Mitchell at the accident scene whether he was the driver who caused the crash, the first offender replied; “It was me, yes.”
The story emerged after Mitchell pleaded guilty at the earliest possible legal opportunity on Wednesday to causing the deaths of Mr and Mrs Peoples by dangerous driving.
Temporary judge John Beckett QC remanded Mitchell - who has no penalty points on his licence - into custody after hearing about the collision from prosecution lawyer Alex Prentice QC.
His defence solicitor advocate, Euan Roy, told the court that Mitchell was “under no illusion” about what his sentence is likely to be. Mr Roy also said his client knew it was unlikely that he would be allowed to keep his liberty whilst waiting for the sentencing hearing.
Judge Beckett also ordered that a report into Mitchell’s background be given to the court when he is sentenced next month.
Mr Prentice said Mitchell was heading north on the two lane A697 when he overtook a silver Nissan Micra. After pulling back in, Mitchell drove behind an articulated lorry that was travelling in front. The court heard that Mitchell then decided to pass the truck when the collision happened.
Mr Prentice added: “Mitchell drove his red car onto the opposing carriageway as if to overtake the lorry. At that time the deceaseds’ car was travelling in the opposite direction uphill. As the lorry passed the deceaseds’ car, the two cars collided head on, on the south bound carriage way.
Mr Prentice also told the court about how emergency crews battled to save the lives of Mr and Mrs Peoples.
“On the arrival of the paramedics they noted that Derek Peoples was trapped within his vehicle. He was conscious and shouting for paramedics to help his wife Avril. She was lying forward wedged between the steering wheel and her husband.
Once fire crews and paramedics had managed to rescue Mrs Peoples medics continued emergency procedures which were unsuccessful and she died at the scene.
Derek Peoples also required to be cut from the Kia, after which he was taken to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.
On arrival he was treated for his injuries but ultimately these were unsuccessful and he died later that same day.
Collision investigators said that Mitchell shouldn’t have overtaken the lorry at that point in the road as he didn’t have a good enough view of the opposite carriageway. He was later arrested and charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
The case was adjourned andMitchell will be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on February 26.