Today at the High Court in Edinburgh Lord Brailsford sentenced Ewan Macpherson to forty months imprisonment after he pled guilty to causing the deaths of William Yeoman Melville, Allison Stewart Melville, William Stewart Melville, Tanya Louise Webster and Donna Louise Miller by driving dangerously on the A85 Perth to Crieff road on 27th January 2007.
On sentencing, Lord Brailsford made the following statement in court:
“You have pled guilty to a charge of causing the deaths of five persons on 27th January 2007 by dangerous driving contrary to Section 1 of the Road Traffic Act. The consequences of this act are, plainly and obviously, tragic in the extreme. Three of the victims were members of one family and it is impossible to adequately comprehend the suffering your actions have caused to the survivors in this family. The other two victims, who were both friends of yours, were young ladies on the threshold of adulthood. Again, the suffering which must have been experienced by members of their family cannot be properly comprehended. All that can be said now is that the court extends its sympathy to the relatives of all the victims.
So far as the circumstances of the offence to which you have pled guilty are concerned, the incident occurred late in the evening of 27 January 2007. You had been socialising in Perth with two of the victims and were returning to your home in Crieff. On the information presented in the agreed narrative of facts by the Crown you drove your vehicle at a speed which must have been about 60-65 miles per hour, crossed a white line and attempted to overtake a vehicle as you approached the brow of a hill. You could not see over the brow of the hill and you therefore collided with the car occupied by the three members of one family. The resultant horrific accident caused the death of those three persons and the two passengers in your car. Whilst the consequences are, as I have already said, horrific, it has to be appreciated in considering sentence that this was one act of dangerous driving. This was not a case where there was any aggravation by reason of, for example, a long course of bad driving , consumption of alcohol, racing or the like.
In mitigation it is undoubtedly the case that you were, when these events took place, only 20 years of age. You were of previous good character and had no previous convictions. Aside from this incident, you have been a useful member of society and the Social Enquiry Report is very favourable. It is clear from this Report and from the information presented to me in court that you yourself recognise the gravity of what you have done and are personally remorseful. The author of the Social Enquiry Report expresses the view that you will be troubled by the deaths you have caused for many years to come and I accept that. I must also mention the testimonial letter I have received from Mrs Webster, the mother of one of the victims Tanya Webster, who was also your girlfriend. This document is a credit to both Mrs Webster and to yourself. From this document it is apparent that you feel a deep sense of responsibility for the death of Tanya and the other victims. It is also apparent that you are attempting in whatever way possible to assist Mrs Webster in the grief she has suffered. As I say, this is to your credit and I take it into account. Furthermore, I take into account the fact that you yourself suffered very significant injuries as a consequence of this incident and required to remain in hospital for several months thereafter.
I also take into account in mitigation the fact that you have co-operated with authorities throughout this trial. You tendered a plea by way of Section 76 letter and this course had a very considerable utilitarian value to the administration of justice. I will take full account of that factor in passing sentence.
Having regard to all these factors the sentence I would have imposed but for the early plea of guilt would have been one of 60 months imprisonment. To take allowance of the early plea of guilt I will reduce that and impose a sentence of 40 months imprisonment. I also disqualify you from driving for 10 years and order that you sit the extended driving test before you receive your driving licence back.”