Drunk driver killed girlfriend and colleague then went home to 'lie low'

Jordan Lawrence had consumed whisky, gin and vodka before getting behind the wheel in January 2020.

Jordan Lawrence jailed after killing girlfriend and colleague in drunken crash before ‘lying low’ Police Scotland

A speeding drunk driver who killed two passengers in his car after driving dangerously on a country road has been jailed for eight years.

Jordan Lawrence, 25, left his girlfriend and a workmate at the scene of the fatal crash after they were thrown from the vehicle.

A judge told Lawrence at the High Court in Edinburgh that he had read of the “terrible consequences” for the families of teenager Jasmine Herron and Jonathan ‘Jonny’ Graham.

Lord Beckett said: “There is no sentence that I can pass which matches the value of the two lives that have been lost.”

The judge told Lawrence: “It is necessary to punish you and to seek to deter you and others from driving in such a dangerous manner.”

Lawrence had earlier denied causing the deaths of Miss Herron, 19, and Mr Graham, 37, on January 25 and 26 in 2020 on the B8024 road south of Ormsary, in Argyll, by dangerous driving, but was found guilty after a trial.

He drove while unfit due to the consumption of alcohol, at excessive speed and failed to maintain observations. He lost control of the car which left the road and collided with a boulder.

The vehicle was propelled through the air onto the shoreline at Loch Caolisport and his passengers were thrown out of the car and died.

Lawrence, who was traced later by police, was also convicted of failing to report the fatal incident.

Lord Beckett told jurors at the end of the earlier trial: “You returned a verdict which is entirely justified on the evidence.”

The judge said it was a “deeply tragic event” which had a huge impact on a small community.

The court heard that Lawrence had been drinking at a party held following a pheasant shoot before getting behind the wheel of the car to drive along the single track road in the dark.

He arrived at the party with a pack of Stella Artois and consumed whisky, gin and vodka during the evening, jurors heard.

As he left with Ms Herron and father-of-three Mr Graham, who was the head gamekeeper at the Ormsary Estate, he appeared to witnesses to be driving fast. One said: “It just zoomed past.”

Advocate depute Graeme Jessop said the evidence pointed to Lawrence driving too fast while he was impaired by alcohol and losing control of the vehicle at a point in the road where there was no obvious hazard.

The prosecutor said: “He made off from the scene and holed up in his house. Why? Is one obvious explanation that he was trying to avoid detection by the authorities until such time as he sobered up.”

Mr Jessop said: “He went home and lay low until the police found him.”

Gamekeeper James Reid, 40, told the court that an end of season pheasant shoot had been organised for that weekend, known as ‘keepers’ day’. He said: “It is mainly for people who have helped on shoots throughout the year.”

He said it was ‘a bit of a social get together’ to celebrate the end of the year and the work that had gone on.

He said he and Mr Graham, who lived at the gamekeeper’s cottage with his wife and boys, were running the event and Lawrence, who worked at the estate at the time, came to the after shoot party at a village hall.

The following morning Mr Reid returned to the hall to make sure everything was in order and it was secured. He was returning home when he saw a car on the shore off the B8024 and recognised it as Lawrence’s vehicle.

He said: “It was well down the beach, facing out to sea.” He added that the car was “a wreck”. He then realised that Mr Graham was lying on his back dead.

He returned home and emergency services were contacted and then returned to the shoreline with his partner Lisa McShane, who realised that Ms Herron was also dead.

She said she was concerned because she could not see Lawrence and added: “I knew they were together and I thought he could possibly be lying dead somewhere as well.” Police later informed them that Lawrence had been found.

Defence counsel Lynsey Morgan said that Lawrence accepted that a custodial sentence was inevitable, although he maintained that there was no wrongdoing on his part which caused the crash.

Lord Beckett said he recognised that Lawrence had expressed regret and recognised the consequences and impact of the deaths, but added that there was no acceptance of responsibility in a background report prepared on him.

The defence counsel said that Lawrence was aged 22 at the time of the offences and asked the court to take into account sentencing guidelines on young people in dealing with him.

Lord Beckett told Lawrence: “It seems you have been driving since you were 17. It hardly needed maturity to realise driving as you did was dangerous for your passengers.”

First offender Lawrence, a digger operator, formerly of Newmilns, in Ayrshire, was banned from driving for 12 years.

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