Ex-footballer killed army veteran who helped addicts before fleeing scene

Former Montrose striker Craig Smart abandoned his work van in Kirkcaldy after striking Dave McArthur on a zebra crossing in Cardenden.

Former footballer Craig Smart killed army veteran who helped addicts before fleeing scene in van Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service

An ex-footballer who fatally injured a former soldier on a zebra crossing before he calmly lit a cigarette and fled the scene has been jailed for two years.

Craig Smart, 44, a one-time centre forward with Montose FC, was driving his employers’ white Ford Transit van when he collided with Army veteran Dave McArthur on the crossing in Cardenden, Fife.

Mr McArthur, a 43-year-old father-of-two, who in civilian life served the community by helping people with addictions, was using the zebra crossing to go to a Tesco Express on Station Road.

He was thrown 9.62 metres, landing on the pavement with such a severe head injury that he died in hospital two days later.

An eye witness described Smart’s van doing “excessive speed” – though police estimated 20 to 27mph – before “a loud bang”.

It later emerged he went on to commit three subsequent speeding offences while on bail over Mr McArthur’s death.

A police collision investigator said Smart had “failed to observe, or react to, Mr McArthur on the zebra”.

After the collision, Smart got out and phoned his girlfriend saying: “I’ve hit someone.”

She instructed him not to “run” but after just eight-and-a-half minutes, without waiting for the emergency services, he “took off”, abandoning the van nearly four miles away in Kirkcaldy.

Smart, a floor layer, of Kirkcaldy, Fife, appeared for sentencing at the High Court in Stirling after being found guilty last month of causing Mr McArthur’s death by careless driving.

He had originally faced a charge of causing death by dangerous driving – which at the time carried a maximum sentence of 14 years – but a jury found him guilty of the lesser serious charge of causing death by careless driving, for which the maximum possible jail term is five.

A charge of being unfit to drive through drink or drugs at the time of the accident was withdrawn by the prosecution. However, Smart was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice by leaving the scene and turning off his phone in a bid to prevent arrest and assessment of his capability to drive.

Judge Lord Scott said this was a significant aggravating factor.

He said Smart had made a “determined effort” to absent himself.

He said: “It must have been entirely obvious to you that you should have remained at the scene for necessary road traffic procedures, if not out of basic human decency.”

Lord Scott said a victim impact statement from Mr McArthur’s wife spoke of the “huge hole” his death had left in the lives of her and their children, just a year short of their 20th wedding anniversary.

Mr McArthur’s sister Debbie spoke of being left in “a black hole of grief”.

Lord Scott said: “No sentence can truly reflect the value of a life lost, such as that of David McArthur.”

The incident occurred in November 2019.

Smart’s counsel Tony Graham KC said Smart accepted he had left Mr McArthur’s family “utterly devastated”.

During the trial, a former care worker Agnes Smith, 63, who stopped and came face-to-face with Smart at the scene in the immediate aftermath of the accident described him as “too calm”.

She told the jury: “His eyes were big.

“It was as if he was on something, but I didn’t smell drink.

“He lit up a cigarette, then he was away.”

In addition to the jail term, Smart was banned from driving for six years and required to re-sit his test before ever getting back behind the wheel.

At his trial, Smart told the jury that driving off afterwards was “the worst decision I have made in my life”.

He stayed the night with a friend rather than at his own home, and handed himself into police the next day.

But he insisted, in answer to questioning by prosecutor Derick Nelson, he had “no reason to lie low”.

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