A driver who caused the death of a teacher in a head-on smash as she drove home from a birthday party with five children has been given community service.
Jacqueline Davidson was driving the group of nine-year-old boys home from a go-karting party when she swerved onto the wrong side of the road.
Her Volvo people carrier smashed head-on into Lorna Grant's Renault Clio on the A92 in north-east Fife near Cupar on August 29, 2010.
Ms Grant, 34, a teacher at Fintry Primary School in Dundee, died four hours later after being rushed to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Two children were also seriously injured.
Davidson was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and was also banned from driving for three years and nine months.
The court heard she had been taking over-the-counter medication and prescribed medication. In a statement outside court Ms Grant's parents called for research into the effects of medication like that taken by Davidson.
Sheriff Charlie Macnair told Davidson: "This was a tragic case, it caused tragedy for Miss Grant and her family. She was driving in a perfectly proper manner and you crossed the carriageway and collided with her. I don't think we'll ever know why you did that.
"Balancing the seriousness of the offence and your personal circumstances is an extremely difficult exercise. Nothing I do today can bring Lorna Grant back and make things any better for her family."
Two children in Davidson’s car were also injured in the crash. One of the boys was places on a ventilator in intensive care for ten days after the crash, during which time he contracted pneumonia. He lost motor function and suffers brain fatigue as a result of his injuries.
Another young passenger in Davidson’s car, suffered a fractured lower spine, leaving him in a brace for nine weeks after the crash.
The court heard that Davidson had been taking anti-depressants and codeine based migraine medication ahead of the crash. A neurologist had said that the medication could cause her to lose concentration or make her fall asleep at the wheel.
Fiscal depute Ann Orr said: "Witnesses saw the accused drift over the lane dividing line. She was not seen to indicate and did not speed up at all and there was nothing to require her to move.
"Lorna Grant was driving southbound and witnesses were aware that a collision would occur. They collided almost head on, and the accused's vehicle spun and overturned.
"Lorna Grant's was propelled down an embankment. Witnesses stopped and called emergency services."
Davidson, 48, of Albany Road, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, pleaded guilty to causing Ms Grant's death by careless driving.
Iain Duguid QC, defending, said Davidson had been "tortured" by what had happened. He said extensive tests suggested two possible explanations. One was that she might have suffered an epileptic fit. The second was that she was taking prescribed anti-depressants and over-the-counter painkillers for a migraine, which might have combined to cause a blackout.
He said she was breathalysed and was not over the limit and was not speeding. He said: "She was driving on the wrong side of the road, and she has no explanation for it. Mrs Davidson has never driven a car since, has never returned to any kind of employment, has been under treatment by psychologists, and has been suffering nightmares and flashbacks. She had been a driver for 28 years without a single blemish."
After the sentencing, members of Miss Grant's family, including her mother Joan, who left the hearing in tears, and her father Bob, a respected Kirkcaldy GP, issued a statement calling for research into the effects of over-the-counter medication like that taken by Davidson. In a statement the family said: "The possibility was raised in court that a combination of prescribed anti-depressant medication taken in conjunction with migraine medication bought from a pharmacy contributed to this crash. There appears to be limited knowledge regarding the effects of such drug combinations on the safety of driving. We believe this is an issue that merits further research."
They added that there daughter was "an amazing girl, talented in so many ways."
The statement said: "She loved the outdoors, walking, climbing and travelling. She was fluent in Spanish, having worked as a designer for SEAT in Barcelona for five years. On returning to Scotland she changed career and became an inspirational and enthusiastic teacher. She was a perfectionist in everything she did but, at the same time, always caring and supportive."
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