Dangerous driver jailed for six years after fireball death crash

Ednilson De Ceita's BMW X5 collided with Jonathan Smith’s Peugeot 206 on May 25, 2018.

Dangerous driver jailed for six years after fireball death crash Police Scotland
Jailed: Ednilson De Ceita was convicted of the fatal crash.

A dangerous driver who killed another motorist in a horrific crash after speeding and going onto the opposite carriageway has been jailed for six years.

Ednilson De Ceita’s BMW X5 collided with Jonathan ‘jonny’ Smith’s Peugeot 206, resulting in the 29-year-old victim suffering a serious head injury and his car going up in flames.

During sentencing at the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday, judge Lord Beckett said: “You gave Mr Smith no chance of surviving the collision.”

The judge said Mr Smith was “a wholly innocent young man” who had spent much of his last day caring for a brother who was recovering from illness.

Lord Beckett said he had read “harrowing statements” from the victim’s relatives and was given information about “Jonathan’s life and work and hopes and dreams”.

He said: “They explain the devastation brought on them.

“I am left in no doubt that a number of his close relatives have suffered grievous consequences for their physical and mental health.

“I have reached the conclusion there is no alternative to a custodial sentence because of the gravity of the crimes you have committed.”

De Ceita, 29, had earlier denied causing the death of Mr Smith by driving dangerously on May 25, 2018, on the A902 Maybury Road, Edinburgh, by driving at excessive speed, onto the opposite carriageway and into the path of oncoming vehicles before colliding with the Peugeot and another vehicle, but was found guilty by a jury.

He was also convicted of driving at the time of the fatal collision without a valid licence or insurance.

The court heard that De Ceita, a property firm manager from Edinburgh, was a first offender who had never previously served a jail sentence.

Advocate depute Michael Meehan QC told the trial: “At the time of the impact the BMW X5 was being driven at 63mph.”

The prosecutor said there was evidence that the vehicle was driven into an area of hatched marking on the roadway prior to it taking a deviation to the right.

He said De Ceita had given differing accounts to the police of going to the left and right and stated that he saw an Audi coming towards him and into his lane and took evasive action.

But he also said that the phone of a female passenger in his vehicle sounded as if it had received a notification and he turned to her for “about half a second” to ask who the message was from, before turning back.

He claimed that when he turned back, he saw a set of headlights which appeared to be on full beam directly in front of him.

But Mr Meehan said there was clear evidence of “driver distraction”.

“He turned his head away and turned his head back,” he told jurors.

The prosecutor said that failures to move to the near side, to observe the speed limit and road markings amounted to dangerous driving.

Defence counsel Ronnie Renucci QC said De Ceita now accepted that he was aware at the time that a licence he had was not valid.

He said: “At the time he didn’t believe he had been speeding or think he was, but now accepts that he was.”

Mr Renucci said: “These cases are particularly tragic and that is not lost on De Ceita.

“It is a personal tragedy for him and his family, but of course he recognises and accepts that is really nothing to the impact of his actions on Mr Smith and Mr Smith’s family.

“He totally regrets his actions. He has expressed genuine remorse over the death of Mr Smith. He recognises that is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life that he is responsible for the death of another.”

De Ceita was banned from driving for nine years and until he passes an extended driving test.

Following the court case, detective chief inspector Graham Grant said: “There were a number of complexities to this investigation but officers remained determined and committed to establish what caused this crash and cost Jonny his life. 

“Ednilson Ceita failed to admit that his actions resulted in this catastrophic event.

“We found that he was driving at excessive speed, ultimately swerving into oncoming traffic, which led to his BMW colliding with the Peugeot being driven by Mr Smith and another vehicle. 

“Jonny’s family have had to wait over three years for justice. They have been dignified and resolute throughout and I hope that today’s verdict offers them some form of comfort. 

“I’d like to thank my investigation team, our colleagues in the Road Policing Unit and other elements of the organisation who contributed to the outcome, but most importantly to Jonny’s family, friends, and the wider community he was an integral part of, for their support during our investigation.”