Fire hero guilty of killing motorcyclist in road smash

Russell Dickson claimed he had not seen Graham Rowe's motorcycle as he pulled out of the junction

A MOTORIST has been convicted of causing death by dangerous driving – just weeks after receiving a bravery award from the police.

Russell William Dickson caused a fatal crash after speeding out of a give way junction and into the path of a motorcyclist.

Father of two Graham Rowe was catapulted from his bike and suffered severe head injuries, dying in hospital three days later.

Today Dickson appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court where he admitted causing death by dangerous driving on a road in East Lothian this summer. on August 15 this year.

Just two weeks ago he was feted at Lothian and Borders Police HQ for ‘bravely’ putting out a fire in a neighbour’s house.

The awards ceremony was told he ran back into the burning building several times to extinguish the flames and help rescue a man trapped inside.

But Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard today how on August 15 this year, Dickson’s driving cost another motorist his life.

Dickson, of Port Seton, East Lothian, was charged with driving his Volkswagon at ‘excessive speed’ out of a give way junction without stopping.


Fiscal depute Ian Wallace told the court: “The cause of death was confirmed as a severe head injury sustained during the road traffic incident.”

Mr Wallace said: “Police attended the scene and spoke to Dickson.  He stated he had approached the junction and slowed down, looked right and left and then pulled out.  He said he did not see the bike and there was a bang. Further enquiries found he was not insured.”

Mr Wallace said road investigators carried out a reconstruction and found that the motorcycle was in the correct side of the road at the point of impact, he added.

Mr Wallace added: “The minimum speed the Volkswagon vehicle had been travelling was about 30mph prior to impact. The police could not ascertain a speed for the motorcycle.”

Dickson later attended voluntarily at Dalkeith police station where he told officers he “saw nothing” on the road before he pulled out.

He said the car “was smashed and spun around” and confirmed to officers that he was not insured, something his mother had previously dealt with.

Mr Wallace told the court about the impact on his family of the death of Mr Rowe, who lived in Newtongrange and was employed as a manager at a plant hire company.

“This crime has had a significant impact on Mr Rowe’s friends and family. He was 38 at the time of his death,” he said.

“He was married to Elaine Rowe and had two children aged five and one at the time of his death.

“He was also survived by his parents.”


Mr Wallace said: “I’ve had a chance to speak to the family this morning. The tragedy has had a significant impact on his life. He was much loved by all of them.”

The court heard from Colm Dempsey, acting on Dickson’s behalf, who said he did not dispute the speed calculated by experts.

But he said his recollection was “not great in respect of that matter” and that 30mph may not have been the minimum.

Mr Dempsey said: “He accepts he did not stop and that’s where the circumstances in this mater comes from.”

Sheriff Alastair Noble called for a community service report and said the “seriousness of the offences” would be “appreciated” when Dickson is sentenced next month.

Dickson received a meritorious award and a certificate from the Society for the Protection of Life from Fire for his role in tackling a blaze in Port Seton on February 25 2010.

The awards ceremony in Edinburgh earlier this month was told: “In February last year, Russell bravely put out a fire in a neighbouring house in Port Seton, without any concern for his own safety.”

The ceremony was also told: “About lunchtime one day Russell heard a woman screaming that her house was on fire.

“He immediately went out to help, and became aware that a man was still inside the house where a small fire had been started.

“When he went in the man was clearly distressed, and threatened him with violence. But despite this, Russell ran in and out the house a couple of times attempting to extinguish the fire with water from a basin.

“By the time police arrived there was a lot of smoke building up in the hallway, but Russell had managed to dampen the flames enough for the man upstairs to leave the house.

“Fortunately no one suffered any injuries in this incident, but there may well have been a very different outcome without Russell’s swift intervention. We are pleased to commend his actions.”