Bin lorry driver jailed for year after reversing death

A Stirling Council recycling collector has been jailed for a year for causing the death of an 80-year-old man during a round in 2014.

Scott Hamilton, 44, was reversing the council recycling lorry to let another vehicle pass while carrying out a round near Dunblane when he struck the mobility scooter of Peter Wills.

The rural Sheriffmuir Road, on which the incident took place
The High Court in Stirling heard at Hamilton’s trial last month that the driver had asked his colleague the check the nearside mirror, but had not seen Wills, who was out on his scooter to watch birds near the single-track road. Wills had served as a Russian interpreter for MI5 before becoming a teacher and Russian examiner for all Scottish schools.

The 7.5-tonne vehicle hit Wills’ scooter and, according to investigators, pushed it backwards for three-quarters of a metre before pushing it over and crushing it. Wills was thrown off the scooter before it was crushed, but the impact broke his neck and ribs, causing him to stop breathing. Hamilton administered CPR until paramedics arrived but Wills was pronounced dead after 45 minutes.

The court heard that Hamilton had only signed off his training documents nine months before the incident, and that his colleague, who was 18 at the time, was not detailed to be a reversing assistant and was only on the round to empty recycling boxes as an apprentice.

Hamilton’s lawyer George Pollock said that his client, a first offender, had made “a mistake while trying to be polite” to another driver.

At the trial last month Hamilton admitted to causing death by careless driving, and was today (25 October) sentenced to a year in prison, as well as being banned from driving for a year.

Judge Lord Ericht told Hamilton: "By your actions, you have caused his death, and the end of a marriage which his widow said was 'paradise'. That is something you'll have to live with for the rest of your life."

Family hopes that death leads to safety improvements

Speaking following Hamilton’s trial last month, Wills’s widow Virginia said: "I don't really care what happens to the driver, to be honest. But the other day one of my children said they saw a bin lorry with a sign on the back saying 'we always check before reversing'. They thought that had gone on the backs of the lorries soon after Peter's death.

"We'd like to think that what happened to him has made people, and the council, more careful. We'd like to think that by his death, perhaps, the death of a child, or a cyclist, in the future might be prevented."

A spokesperson for Stirling Council said: “This was a tragic situation and our thoughts have been, and remain with, Mr Wills’ family and friends.

“We have robust health and safety policies in place for our refuse vehicles and all of our drivers receive training for this and are expected to fully comply with them. Our vehicles have reversing sensors and comply with the recommendations made following the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the Glasgow bin lorry incident.

“We are specifying that the new refuse collection vehicles for Stirling Council have camera recorders fitted also.”

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