An engineer has been convicted of causing the death of a north-east binman by driving carelessly.
Craig Ross had denied causing William Buchan’s death by driving dangerously on the A90 Fraserburgh to Aberdeen road, near Hatton, on May 12 2016.
He had been on trial at the High Court in Aberdeen and yesterday a jury found him guilty by a majority verdict of the lesser charge of death by careless driving.
Ross, 29, had been working as a refrigeration engineer for Integral Ltd at the time of the crash.
The court heard last week he had been travelling south in a company van from the Morrisons supermarket in Peterhead to the King Street branch in Aberdeen, where he had been due to give a talk on health and safety.
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His van collided head-on with Mr Buchan’s council vehicle after crossing on to the wrong side of the A90 near Hatton.
In his closing statement to the jury of eight women and seven men, defence advocate Jonathan Crowe argued that the crash was not his client’s fault, as he entered the rarely used plea of “automatism”.
He argued that Ross was not responsible for his actions, as he had become involuntarily intoxicated by accidentally inhaling gas which escaped from a number of canisters in the back of his van.
Mr Crowe reminded the jury of evidence that had been presented at an early stage in the proceedings that suggested five of the containers were missing gas, and the symptoms that can arise from breathing it in.
He said: “Would you want to be in that van, given what we have heard about the effects of this gas?
“We have heard that it can cause drowsiness, dizziness, lower reaction times and more.
“And we also heard in the evidence that even slight inhalation is required for the effects to manifest.”
But advocate depute Alan Cameron argued Ross had driven for more than three minutes between stopping his vehicle and checking for gas leaks and the collision, and said he was “talking sense” in the immediate aftermath of the crash, and was asking for help after he had become trapped.
The jury deliberated for about an hour before reaching their verdict.
Judge Lord Burns deferred sentence for background reports but disqualified Ross, of Fara Close, Aberdeen, from driving in the interim.
After the death of Mr Buchan, who worked for Aberdeenshire Council’s waste department, council bosses paid tribute to him.
The local authority’s chief executive Jim Savege previously said his “heartfelt condolences” went out to everyone who knew Mr Buchan, including his council colleagues and his devastated family.