Pensioner who killed teacher in crash facing ‘lengthy’ jail sentence

Thomas Smith hit the 36-year-old cyclist head on after driving onto the opposing carriageway.

Pensioner who killed teacher in crash facing ‘lengthy’ jail sentence Paul Devlin via SNS Group
High Court: Smith facing 'lengthy' jail term.

A pensioner who killed a popular teacher out on his daily cycle ride after carrying out a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre was warned he faced a lengthy jail sentence.

Car driver Thomas Smith hit 36-year-old Adam Pattinson head on after driving onto the opposing carriageway as he tried to pass a van and truck when it was unsafe to do so.

Mr Pattinson suffered “catastrophic” internal bleeding as he was fatally injured in the collision on the A912 Aberargie to Bridge of Earn Road, in Perth and Kinross, on February 28 in 2020.

The 76-year-old first offender of Kestrel Way, Perth, admitted causing his death by driving dangerously, when he appeared at the High  Court in Edinburgh on Thursday.

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The victim was a primary school teacher at Craigclowan prep school on the outskirts of Perth and was married with a seven-month-old son, Fraser.

Advocate depute William Frain-Bell told the court: “He was a very enthusiastic teacher at this school where he had been a pupil.

“His local community was very important to him as was demonstrated by his commitment to the school and Perthshire rugby club.

“There is a significant sense of loss experienced at the school by pupils and staff alike.”

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The prosecutor said: “He was a very popular teacher. There were many tributes to Mr Pattinson, which included tributes from pupils who described him as the ‘BFT’ or Big Friendly Teacher.

“The consistent theme was the impression he left on pupils which went beyond mere education and extended to important lessons on life. His enthusiasm was far reaching.

“He was captain of Perthshire rugby club and had played 350 games.

“A minute’s silence took place at a game days after his death.”

Mr Frain-Bell added: “He was delighted to become a father and took an active part in his son’s life.”  

On the morning of his death Mr Pattinson told his wife Claire that he was going for his bike ride and would see her later. She was expecting him home before he went to work.

The prosecutor said he set off wearing full cycling kit, including a helmet and high visibility jacket and with lights on his bike.

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Smith was driving his Citroen C4 Cactus car behind a lorry and a Transit van. The lorry driver could see the light on Mr Pattinson’s oncoming bike.

Mr Frain-Bell said: “The accused attempted to overtake both the Transit van and the articulated lorry. While carrying out the overtake Smith collided with Adam Pattinson head on.

“Adam Pattinson was thrown into the air, coming to rest on the grass verge to the north of the road. The accused’s vehicle continued north west coming into contact with the lorry before leaving the road and colliding with a hedge to the north side of the road and coming to rest on the grass verge.”

He said the lorry driver became aware of Smith’s car behind him moving out to overtake but thought it was not moving fast enough to pass him and get back in and applied his brake.

Police collision investigators said in a report: “The driver (Smith) has pulled out in a position where he would have been aware of the oncoming cycle light. He took the decision to pass the van and made no change after doing so, despite getting to a point where the cycle was clearly too close for him to be able to complete the full overtaking manoeuvre.

“It was said it was “a very poor decision for the driver to proceed”.

The officers said: “From the moment the driver pulled out to start his overtake, he would have been aware of the cycle light moving towards him and he hasn’t reacted in any way to its presence.”

Mrs Pattinson had become concerned that her husband had not returned home and she called his phone but got no answer.

Police later arrived at her home to inform her that her husband had been in a fatal road traffic collision and had died.

Pathologists who conducted a post mortem examination on Pattinson found he had sustained severe widespread injuries and suffered “catastrophic internal haemorrhage within the left side of the chest cavity”.

The court heard he would have lost consciousness immediately and death would have followed within a minute or two.

Following the collision Smith was taken to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee for checks to be made on his injuries, which turned out to be minor.

Defence counsel David Nicolson said: “This is indeed an utterly tragic case and it is clear from all accounts that Mr Pattinson was an extremely impressive young man.”

The judge, Lord Arthurson, told Smith that he had admitted “an extremely grave criminal charge” and should appreciate it was highly likely that he would impose a substantial sentence of imprisonment.

He deferred sentence on Smith until next month for the preparation of a background report and agreed to continue his bail.

Smith was given an interim driving ban.