Man killed woman in crash after trailer detached from Land Rover

Mark McVay drove the trailer while the braking system was 'inadequately maintained,' resulting in it striking Michelle Russell's vehicle.

Mark McVay killed woman in car crash after trailer detached from Land Rover SNS Group

A man killed a fellow motorist after the trailer he was towing detached from his Land Rover and collided with her car.

Mark McVay failed to properly secure the trailer to his Land Rover before it uncoupled and crashed into Michelle Russell’s vehicle.

McVay, 56, had denied causing the death of Ms Russell, 38, from Alva, in Clackmannanshire, by driving the Land Rover towing the trailer dangerously, but was convicted of the offence following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The trailer was heavily modified as a crane and power pack were fixed to it among other alterations he carried out before the fatal crash occurred on August 30 in 2018 at West Road, near Saline, in Fife.

McVay, of Backmuir of Pitfirrane, Dunfermline, was also found guilty of using the vehicle and trailer when they had faults, including a fractured chassis on the Land Rover and defective emergency braking mechanism on the trailer.

Following the verdicts the trial judge told him: “You have been convicted of a very serious crime, involving the death of a woman loved by her family.”

Lord Mulholland said: “This will inevitably result in a sentence of imprisonment.”

The judge said to jurors that it had been “an anxious case”.

First offender McVay, who had been on bail throughout his trial, was remanded in custody for the preparation of a background report and will be sentenced next month.

The court heard that Ms Russell had set off on the morning of the crash planning to visit her grandmother, but after her car crashed with the decoupled trailer she suffered catastrophic injuries.

Advocate depute Shanti Maguire told the court: “In this case a young woman has tragically lost her life. Her family have lost a daughter and sister.”

The prosecutor told jurors that the modifications were made to the trailer for McVay’s own commercial purposes.

She said: “The Crown invite you to consider that the trailer was not securely attached to the Land Rover before he set off that morning.”

She said expert evidence indicated that if the coupling was properly attached and checked it could not come off.

“The Crown case is that he did not attach the trailer correctly, as was his responsibility to do so, and as a result he towed the trailer in an obviously dangerous condition which ultimately caused the death of Michelle Russell when it uncoupled and collided with her car,” she said.

She maintained that it was simply not locked on and it was not checked that it was safe. 

McVay, a second-hand dealer and groundworker, said: “It was locked when I left the house. I don’t accept that I didn’t lock it properly.” 

The advocate depute handed up victim impact statements from the parents and sisters of the deceased to the judge ahead of sentencing.

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