Driver who killed woman while speeding to catch ferry jailed

William Kennedy, 48, drove on the wrong side of the road and ploughed into a car carrying Patricia and Robert McIlwraith.

Dangerous driving: William Kennedy pleaded guilty.
Dangerous driving: William Kennedy pleaded guilty.

A speeding driver who killed a woman and seriously injured her husband in a smash has been jailed for almost five years.

William Kennedy, 48, drove on the wrong side of the road on his way to catch a ferry and ploughed into a car carrying Patricia and Robert McIlwraith.

Mrs McIlwraith, 49, never survived the crash on the A77 near Ballantrae, Ayrshire, in July 2018.

Mr McIlwraith, 64, was airlifted to hospital. He suffered a broken spine, two punctured lungs and kidney damage.

There had initially been fears he may never walk again.

At the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday, Kennedy was jailed for four years and eight months after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

He also admitted leaving Mr McIlwraith severely injured and permanently impaired.

Lord Burns said: “You recognised you caused the death of Mrs McIlwraith as well as devastating and life-changing injuries to her husband.

“He has endured enormous physical and emotional pain – that will continue.”

Kennedy, of Drongan, Ayrshire, was also banned from the road for seven years and four months.

The hearing was told Kennedy had made a booking for him and three others to travel on the Cairnryan to Larne ferry on July 7, 2018.

Other motorists clocked him going at “grossly excessive” speeds in his Ford Ranger pick-up.

The McIlwraiths – married for 28 years and have two daughters – had been returning meantime from a shopping trip to Stranraer. The couple lived in Colmonell, Ayrshire.

Kennedy ended up on the wrong side of the road on a blind bend before crashing into the McIlwraiths’ oncoming Ford Fusion.

He was said to have been going at 64mph – above the 50mph limit – at the time.

Two passing doctors rushed to help the couple.

A post-mortem revealed Mrs McIlwraith had suffered a fatal chest injury.

Mr McIlwraith spent several months in hospital.

Mr Farrell said: “His mobility has been substantially impaired and he needs to use a wheelchair most of the time.

“He has had to move house to one which has been adapted. He will require significant assistance with daily living for the rest of his life.”

In defence, QC Gordon Jackson said: “He was driving too fast trying to catch a ferry.”