An Italian driver has gone on trial accused of causing a fatal collision that claimed the lives of five people in the north of Scotland.
Alfredo Ciociola, 50, is alleged to have caused the deaths of Audrey Appleby, Edward Reid, Evalyn Collie, Frances Saliba and Lorenzo Ciociola on July 26 in 2018 by driving dangerously.
He is accused of failing to pay proper attention to the road in front of him, falling asleep and repeatedly braking and driving onto the opposing carriageway and colliding with a vehicle driven by Morag Smith.
It is said that Morag Smith was seriously injured and her passengers Audrey Appleby, Evalyn Collie and Edward Reid were so severely injured that they died.
The charge also stated that Frances Saliba and Lorenzo Ciociola, who were passengers in Ciocola’s vehicle, were also so severely injured that they died and that Frederico Ciociola was injured and Francesco Patane and Concetta Passanisi were seriously injured.
The alleged offence is said to have occurred on the A96 road near to Inveramsay Bridge, Pitcaple, between Inverurie and Keith and on the A96 Huntly to Keith road, near to the Drummuir Junction, Keith, in Moray.
Ciociola’s defence counsel Ian Duguid KC tendered a plea of not guilty to the charge today at the High Court in Edinburgh.
The trial judge, Lord Mulholland, told jurors that there would not be any evidence led today as a result of an issue that has arisen but it is expected to begin tomorrow.
The judge said there was a bar on them conducting internet searches in relation to the case and posting anything on social media on it. He said there was an Italian interpreter with the accused.
Lord Mulholland told jurors that it was difficult to be accurate about the length of the proceedings but said the best estimate was that it may conclude by the end of next week, but could go into the following week.