A MAN who received a bravery award for a heroic fire rescue was jailed today after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.
Russell William Dickson killed Graham Rowe in a ‘tragic’ car smash on 15 August this year, a court heard.
He was jailed for a year for speeding out of a give way junction and into the path of Mr Rowe’s motorcycle.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard today how other drivers found Dickson ‘hysterical’ after the crash, and that he had suffered post traumatic stress disorder.
After sentencing, the 29-year-old – who has no previous convictions and a clean driving licence – looked towards his family in the public gallery but showed no emotion as he was led away
Only last month, Dickson was feted at Lothian and Borders police headquarters for helping to rescue an elderly neighbour whose house was on fire in Port Seton, East Lothian.
But the family of Mr Rowe, a 38-year-old father of two from Newtongrange, Midlothian, were said to have been left ‘devastated’ by his death.
Dickson’s defence agent Colm Dempsey said today: “He offers his sincere apologies and condolences to the family of Mr Rowe.
“Mr Dickson was not particularly knowledgeable of the location. He had passed through as a passenger but not as a driver.”
He said his view of the main road in East Lothian where Mr Rowe was driving in August this year was obscured by hedges on the unclassified road.
Mr Dempsey added that alcohol tests on his client had proved negative and that the roofer had “general good character” and had a clean licence.
“It should also be taken into that he received a meritorious award…following his role in tackling a fire in a neighbour’s home,” he said.
“He has shown genuine remorse for Mr Rowe and his family,” he added.
But in sentencing Dickson, Sheriff Alistair Noble said only a custodial sentence was appropriate for causing death by dangerous driving.
He said: “It’s obvious that Mr Rowe was a much loved husband, father and son. His death has brought considerable devastation on a number of lives.”
Sheriff Noble admonished Dickson on a charge of driving without insurance.
An earlier hearing was told that Mr Rowe was catapulted from his bike and suffered severe head injuries, dying in hospital three days later.
Dickson told police he had approached the junction, slowed down, looked right and left and then pulled out. The first he knew of the bike was hearing a bang.
Accident investigators carried out a reconstruction and found that the motorcycle was on the correct side of the road at the point of impact.
The previous hearing was told that the minimum speed the Volkswagon had been travelling was about 30mph prior to impact. The police could not work out a speed for the motorcycle.
The court also heard about the impact on his family of the death of Mr Rowe, who was employed as a manager at a plant hire company.
Fiscal depute Ian Wallace told the earlier hearing: “This crime has had a significant impact on Mr Rowe’s friends and family.
“He was married to Elaine Rowe and had two children aged five and one at the time of his death.”
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 last 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.”