SNP MP Angus MacNeil found guilty of careless driving after teenager hit

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SNP MP Angus MacNeil has been banned from driving for three months. (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)
SNP MP Angus MacNeil has been banned from driving for three months. (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

An SNP MP involved in a crash which saw a 17-year-old seriously hurt has been banned from the road for three months after being found guilty of careless driving.

Angus MacNeil, 51, had been on trial at Lochmaddy Sheriff Court in the Outer Hebrides on a charge of dangerous driving following the collision on his home island of Barra in October 2020.

On Wednesday, the Western Isles MP was instead convicted of the alternative charge of careless driving.

He has also been fined £1,500, due to be paid within 28 days.

MacNeill had previously denied performing a manoeuvre without keeping a proper lookout, and causing serious injury.

This is a complete failure to show the road was clear, and the quality of Mr MacNeil’s driving is in question here

Procurator fiscal Miriam Clark

After the crash, the rider was taken to St Brendan’s Hospital on the island but was later airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, where he went through a round of surgery to treat his fractured leg.

He has been left with permanent scarring.

The court heard how the teenager, a mechanic, was riding a dirt bike along the A888, near Castlebay Community School on the island, when MacNeil pulled out from a layby and both vehicles crashed.

The rider suffered serious injuries to his leg and has previously told a court he now finds it hard to work on vehicles because of the pain and, to try to cope, he is “constantly taking paracetamol”.

MacNeil, giving his own evidence, claimed to have not seen the rider until the point the two collided.

The court heard the MP was doing a three-point-turn in the middle of the road on the evening the crash happened.

He told the court: “The first thing I did is look in my mirrors and check there is nothing around me.

“I looked behind me, I looked around me and there was nothing in the area.”

Police officer Phil Farndell, who attended the scene shortly after the collision, gave evidence at the hearing.

He said MacNeil was “obviously shaken” by the crash.

When the prosecution asked the witness what MacNeil said to him, Mr Farndell replied: “He (MacNeil) said: ‘It was my fault, I didn’t see the boy’.”

But MacNeil, in evidence, said “it was like I was in a dream” in the aftermath of the collision and claimed not to remember giving this statement to police.

When procurator fiscal Miriam Clark asked MacNeil whose fault the collision was, he said: “For the clatter, it was the motorcyclist’s fault.”

The court heard the A888 is busier with traffic than other areas of the island.

Ms Clark described MacNeil’s manoeuvre as “dangerous”, adding: “It required Mr MacNeil to join a main road from a layby and be aware of traffic from two directions.

“Mr MacNeil failed to see the rider coming down the hill … a noisy bike, and he was riding with reflective clothing on.

“This was not a moment of relapse of attention, but rather a failure.

“A careful, competent driver would have seen the bike and not made the manoeuvre.

“This is a complete failure to show the road was clear, and the quality of Mr MacNeil’s driving is in question here.”

She said the teenager’s injuries should be in the category of serious injury, adding he had to be air lifted, and faced an injury that could not be treated on the island.

MacNeil’s advocate John Brannigan had urged Sheriff Gordon Lamont, overseeing the case, to acquit Mr MacNeil of the charge of serious injury caused by dangerous driving.

The lawyer referred to earlier evidence from the rider’s friend who said the teenager was travelling at about 30mph, faster than the road in question’s 20mph speed limit.

Mr Brannigan also told the court the tyres of the bike were not suitable for tarmac “at all”, adding: “This is a bike called a dirt bike, an off the road bike, not suitable with tarmac.”

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