A driver who caused the death of three passengers by pulling out in front of a double decker bus has been jailed for 11 months and banned from the road for three years.
Marin Rachev, 35, blamed a “moment of inattention” for the smash in which three of his friends were killed on the A90 last March.
His lawyer claimed the nightmares in which Rachev relived the traumatic events of the night amounted to a ‘life sentence’ for him.
Backseat passengers Zaharina Hristova, her husband Silyan Stefanov and Dimitar Georgiev, 32, all died in the collision on the Aberdeen to Dundee road.
None of the backseat passengers were wearing seatbelts and Zaharina, 37, and Silyan, 42, were catapulted out of the car into the path of another motor.
Rachev’s sister-in-law Ivanka Dobreva, who was married to tragic Dimitar, suffered serious injuries but survived.
Rachev, a Bulgarian national, was sentenced at the High Court in Livingston on Thursday after earlier being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving at the junction on the dual carriageway on March 12 of last year.
Frances Connor, defending, said Rachev thought he had sufficient time to reach the central reservation before the bus reached his red Renault Megane.
‘It’s clear he misjudged the speed at which the bus was travelling. It’s also clear from the evidence that he misjudged it by seconds.’Frances Connor, defending, said Rachev
She said: “It’s clear he misjudged the speed at which the bus was travelling. It’s also clear from the evidence that he misjudged it by seconds.
“His car was about three quarters of the way into the central reservation when the collision occurred.”
She added: “He’s unable to step back from the nightmares and the horror to have any degree of partiality about what happened. It may take time.
“The evidence would indicate that this was an isolated, momentary mistake by Mr Rachev.
“Expert evidence was that if the occupants had been wearing seatbelts then the likelihood is that they would all have survived.
“That’s not to distract from the mistake made but it makes the deaths all the more tragic.”
She highlighted Rachev had served the equivalent of a 13 months prison sentence on remand last year and had been returned to custody following the jury’s verdict on 3 February.
As Rachev wept in the dock, she continued: “I say there is no public interest to be served by a further custodial sentence, indeed the community and society would be better served if Mr Rachev was put to work to make amends.”
Passing sentence, judge Lord Kinclaven told Rachev that careless driving could cover a broad spectrum of events.
“I require to asses your degree of culpability – your blameworthiness – as well as the gravity of the harm caused,” he said.
“In your case that includes taking into account the carnage that was caused and the loss of several lives. I don’t intend to increase distress by relating the details of these events.
‘Three people lost their lives – that’s an aggravating factor – and in addition one person was severely injured. I also have the benefit of three victim impact statements setting out the emotional, psychological and financial impacts of your offence.’Judge Lord Kinclaven
“Such is the gravity that, perhaps understandably, you continue to minimise to some extent your role in this. Your attempts to pass the blame to the bus driver at trial failed.
“Three people lost their lives – that’s an aggravating factor – and in addition one person was severely injured. I also have the benefit of three victim impact statements setting out the emotional, psychological and financial impacts of your offence.
“I require to mark the seriousness of your offending. There’s no alternative in my view to a custodial sentence. No other way of dealing with you is appropriate.”
He sentenced Rachev to 11 months in prison, backdated to February 3 when he was remanded in custody.
Disqualifying him from holding or obtaining a licence for three years, the judge imposed a mandatory extension period of five-and-a-half months which will come into force on the accused’s release from prison. He also required him to retake the driving test.