Driver tells how pop star nearly killed him in Borders crash

Pop star Will Young.
Pop star Will Young.

A motorist has told how he was almost killed by Will Young in the accident that led to a six-month driving ban for the pop star.

Horse-racing commentator Rob Hogarth was returning to his parked vehicle in a lay-by and watched in horror as the 39-year-old’s Mercedes 4x4 came off the A68 and ploughed into the back of his new Nissan Qashqai.

The A68 near Sorrowlessfield Farm.

The A68 near Sorrowlessfield Farm.

Young was driving up the Edinburgh-Darlington road south of Earlston, west of Sorrowless Field Farm, on January 21 en route to the Scottish capital for an interview for his weekly podcast at the time.

The singer pleaded guilty at Jedburgh Sheriff Court to careless driving and was fined £600 and had his licence endorsed with five penalty points.

As he already had 11 points on his licence, he was disqualified for six months under the totting-up procedure.

His lawyer Stuart Munro said that Young would suffer major inconvenience as a result of the ban when he returns to his remote Cornwall home at the end of July after his run in a West End show in London, a stage version of the 1992 Baz Luhrmann film Strictly Ballroom, finishes.

Rob Hogarth.

Rob Hogarth.

Mr Hogarth, also a radio presenter, recalled the moment he was almost killed by the apologetic pop star as he visited a friend at a nearby farm, saying: “We were waiting for the police to come and he said ‘oh my God, you were so nearly killed’, and it was only at that point that I realised that, yeah, he very nearly hit me.

“Up until that point, I hadn’t even thought about that because I was just worried about my car that had got all smashed in.

“I know the whole situation is awful – my car was written off, and it’s been terrible trying to sort out the insurance – but he couldn’t have been nicer.”

“Because of the snow, I parked the car in the layby. I couldn’t get up the hill, so I got a lift up the hill and a lift back down, and I was just walking up to the driver’s door and then I suddenly looked round and there’s this car coming in, this big car coming into the layby, coming straight towards me and the car.

“I just stepped out of the way and wasn’t really 100% sure what on earth was going on, and the next thing I knew the car coming into the layby went into the back of my car and drove it right up the banking at the side of the layby, and I’m just standing there going ‘oh my God, my car’ because it was only about four months old.

“I was just standing looking at the car, which was all completely smashed in from the boot, and I so nearly went to put my jacket in the boot, and if I’d been standing at the boot, then I don’t know what would have happened.”

Mr Hogarth says he recognised Young straight away.

He said: “He was in a very big, solid Mercedes-type vehicle, and he went over and parked up and then came out, and he was like ‘oh my God, are you all right?’ I kind of knew exactly who he was.

“All he was worried about was if I was OK, and all he was doing was apologising, saying ‘I’m so, so sorry. I thought this was the road.’

“He said he saw the lights and he thought this was a car in front of me and he thought this was the road.

“All he did was apologise. He said it was totally his fault and ‘we’ll get it all sorted out. My insurance company will get it all sorted out,’ which was incredible.

“When he walked over to the car, he was really well dressed, and I knew from his voice straight away who he was. The way I knew it was Will Young, because I’m not a fan of his music, but he’s really keen on riding horses, so I knew him straight away from that.

Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser said the accident happened at 6pm on a Sunday and driving conditions were poor due to a recent snowfall.

He described how Young misread the road and entered the lay-by “travelling faster than sensible for the conditions”.

Defence lawyer Stuart Munro said: “He made a mistake. He thought he was on the main road and entered the lay-by and applied the brakes, but it was too late. It was a momentary loss of control which led to the unfortunate events.”

The court was told that Young was convicted of drink-driving 20 years ago while he was a student at Oxford.

Young’s fine of £600 was reduced from £850 due to his guilty plea, and he was given 28 days to pay it on Monday.

Sheriff Euan Edment said: “I understand it was a momentary lapse of judgement.”

Berkshire-born Young shot to fame by winning the first series of ITV’s Pop Idol in 2002, beating Gareth Gates in its final.

Since then, four of his six studio albums have topped the charts, most recently his sixth and latest, 85% Proof in 2015.

He has also racked up four singles chart No 1s, the last being Leave Right Now in 2003.