Drink driver admits Motherwell death crash

Ferris's badly damaged car after the fatal crash outside his Grange Tower flat.
Ferris's badly damaged car after the fatal crash outside his Grange Tower flat.

A drink driver mowed down and killed a mother-of-one as she walked her dog along a pavement in Motherwell, a court was told today.

Darren Ferris (24), who had been drinking Buckfast, lost control of his Ford Mondeo and ploughed into 44-year-old Linda Carson in Muirhouse Road on September 27.

He shouldn’t even have been on the road because he was supposed to be serving a driving ban.

Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, told the High Court in Glasgow: “The accused was seen driving the Mondeo at excessive speed, causing some observers to make comments that he was driving ‘like an idiot’.”

Ferris was unable to control the car on a right hand bend, mounted the pavement and struck Mrs Carson who was walking her pet terrier Buster. His car then smashed into a wall.

Mr Prentice added: “One witness heard a scream cut short by a thud just before the collision with the wall.”

The court was told that callous Ferris got out the car and spoke to Mrs Carson who was lying on the pavement. What he said was not heard, but a bystander saw him put his hands to his head and swear loudly before jumping over the car bonnet and fleeing to his home in nearby Grange Tower.

One of the people who tried to help Mrs Carson called the mobile number on the dog’s collar and spoke to Mrs Carson’s husband, Robert.

Mr Prentice said: “Her husband rushed to the scene with his 11-year-old daughter. They were confronted with the tragic scene and had to be comforted by locals.

“Among those who gave assistance was a nurse who attempted CPR until the ambulance arrived.”

Mrs Carson died from multiple injuries. A head injury was the main factor in her death.

Ferris admitted causing the death of Mrs Carson by driving dangerously while under the influence of alcohol and at excessive speed.

He also admitted driving while disqualified, with no insurance and no licence, attempting to defeat the ends of justice by throwing away the car keys and failing to admit he was the driver.

The court heard that Ferris has two previous convictions for drink driving.

In fact, at the time of the death crash he was awaiting sentence for one of the drink driving offences.

He had bought the Ford Mondeo, which was mechanically sound, a week earlier for £300. On the day of the crash he had been drinking Buckfast with a friend, David Russell (27), who described them both as “pretty drunk”.

While they were both tinkering with the car in the car park outside Grange Tower before 5pm, they had a row and the police were called.

At this point the car had no battery and no spark plugs. Both men were warned by the police and Mr Russell left.

He later received a text from Ferris saying: “The motor is sorted.”

At 7pm Ferris was seen carrying a car battery and a bottle of Buckfast, and at 8.12pm he was caught on CCTV driving the car towards Muirhouse Road.

Around 8pm Mrs Carson left her home in nearby Gresham View to walk the family pet. This was the last time her husband and daughter saw her alive.

Police went to Ferris’s flat after witnesses said he had fled there after the crash. Minutes earlier he had been seen dropping the car keys from the window of his second floor flat.

The officers had to force entry as Ferris ignored their knocking. They found him in bed holding a tissue to an injury to his left eye. When he saw them he immediately became aggressive and told them to get out.

He was smelling of alcohol and unsteady on his feet. When asked who had been driving the Ford Mondeo he replied: “Not me.”

A breath test taken 90 minutes after the fatal crash gave a reading of 63. The legal limit is 22.

Ferris claimed “something went wrong with the motor” and he couldn’t stop it. He said he panicked after the crash and didn’t realise he had hit anyone.

However, police experts who examined the scene concluded that blame for the fatal collision lay with Ferris driving too well in excess of the 30mph limit.

Defence counsel Tony Graham said Ferris realised he had “utterly devastated a family”.

Sentence was deferred on Ferris, who is in custody, until January 15.