Driver jailed for 44 months over Kelso couple’s death

AN IT consultant was today jailed for 44 months for killing a Kelso husband and wife in a head-on crash.

James Mitchell, 48, from Bo’ness, West Lothian, admitted causing the deaths of grandparents Derek and Avril Peoples by dangerous driving.

Mitchell’s Hyundai i30 car smashed into Mr Peoples’ Kia on the A697 near Carfraemill while on the wrong side of the road overtaking a lorry on December 23, 2012.

The Peoples, married for 31 years, were returning from a weekend visiting friends when the collision happened. They died within an hour of each other.

Mitchell admitted to police at the scene that he caused the crash, saying: “It was me, yes.”

He has described his overtaking manoeuvre as “a colossal error in judgement” and has vowed that he will never drive again.

Sentencing Mitchell at the High Court in Glasgow, judge John Beckett QC told him: “I accept you have shown and felt real remorse. It is clear that you are highly regarded by your family and those you worked for. You have raised money for charity and your driving is described as normally careful and responsible.”

But judge Beckett added: “When you began to overtake the lorry you could not have had a clear view. You made an extremely rash and dangerous overtaking manoeuvre.

“Mr Peoples, who was 
driving in the opposite direction, found himself with nowhere to go. He and his wife had no warning there was about to be a head-on crash.”

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, told the court that the collision happened seconds after Mitchell pulled out to overtake a lorry.

Solicitor advocate Euan Roy, defending, said: “At the time he thought he was able to see the road in front of him and that gave him a false sense of confidence.

“Once he had committed to the manoeuvre there was no way to get back in. This was a momentary lapse.

“He is very remorseful.”