A VAN driver has been convicted of causing the death of a 77-year-old Moffat woman in a horror head-on crash.
At the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday, 27-year-old Edward Beckley, of Meikle Inch Lane, Bathgate, was found guilty of causing the death of Sarah Stewart by dangerous driving on March 3, 2011, on the A701 Dumfries to Edinburgh road one mile north of the C98.
Beckleys Volkswagen van was the third of a line of vehicles overtaking a lorry on the undulating country road.
The others managed to overtake safely, but Beckley whose view was obscured by the van directly in front of him smashed into an oncoming red Ford Fiesta driven by Mrs Stewart.
Mrs Stewart, from Annandale Place in the town, tried frantically to swerve her car into the verge at the side of the road, but could do nothing to prevent the impact.
Her husband George Stewart, aged 78, who was in the passenger seat, was taken to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary with serious injuries. He sustained a laceration to his hip and a fractured sternum.
When police arrived on the scene Beckley, who was crying, told them: I have caused this.
As he sat beside his wrecked fish van, Beckley said: What have I done? I have caused this.
In court he pleaded guilty to a charge of causing death by careless driving, but denied that his driving was dangerous.
After hearing all the evidence the jury took the view his driving was dangerous.
In evidence Beckley told the court he had been delivering what he described as high end fish to customers in Houston, Renfrewshire, that day before driving towards Moffat.
He said he was on his way to his parents home and then on to visit his grandparents.
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Andrew Miller he was asked what was so urgent that he needed to overtake the lorry and he replied: I didnt need to.
Beckley was interviewed by police at the accident and emergency department in Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.
He told police he caught up with an HGV lorry which was travelling at 40 mph and there were other vehicles behind the lorry and they all pulled out to overtake it.
Beckley said: I couldnt see anything coming in the other direction. I checked and there was nothing coming and I pulled out as well.
As I was passing the wagon the van which was in front of me moved back in front of the wagon.
There was a car right in front of me coming towards me. I slammed on my brakes. I moved in as tight as possible towards the wagon. There was an impact.
The next thing I knew I had to climb out the drivers door window of the van.
Beckley added: I realised there was a red car further up from me in a ditch. I ran over and tried to open the drivers door and speak to the people.
Judge Lord Boyd banned Beckley from driving in the interim and deferred sentence for background reports until next month.
He allowed Beckley bail.