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Daily Record
Daily Record
Vic Rodrick

Italian tourist who killed five people in Scots road crash caged for three years

An Italian tourist who caused the deaths of five people including his oldest son in a horrific road accident was today jailed for three years.

Alfredo Ciociola was driving a Fiat minibus on the A96 near Keith in Morayshire four years ago when he crossed to the wrong side of the road and collided head-on with a Nissan X-Trail SUV .

The driver of the other car Morag Smith, 44, was severely injured and her three passengers Edward – known as Ted – Reid, 63, from Macduff, and Evalyn Collie, 69, and Audrey Appleby, 70, from Aberchirder, died.

They were on their way home from a line dancing session in Elgin, Moray, when they lost their lives. Ciociola’s son Lorenzo, 4, also died in the carnage along with a rear seat passenger in his vehicle Maltese national Frances Saliba, 63, both from Sicily.

Her husband Francesco Patane was seriously injured along with Ciociola's wife Concetta, who was in the back seat with their two children. His younger son Frederico, then aged three, escaped with minor injuries.

Ciociola, 50, a coastguard officer with the Italian Navy – who was also injured – was convicted of causing the five deaths by careless driving at the Drummuir junction on the A96 on July 26, 2018.

A jury found that he had failed to pay proper attention to the road ahead and had driven into the opposing carriageway seconds before the head-on crash.

Edward (Ted) Reid (top left), Evalyn Collie (bottom left), Audrey Appleby (top right), Frances Saliba Patanè (bottom right) along with four-year-old Lorenzo Ciociola died in the crash. (Handout)

Ian Duguid, defending, said that his client’s wife, who has since had another child, had suffered a severe brain injury in the crash and her life was now considerably restricted.

He revealed that Ciociola, who had qualified as a lawyer in Sicily, now worked rescuing migrants from Italian waters and was his family’s breadwinner.

He recalled that crash investigation experts had put the “fatal time” during which Ciociola mistakenly swerved right into the path of the oncoming vehicle instead of left towards the kerb at just two seconds.

He said: “It’s not as if Mrs Smith had taken evasive action herself, like braking or changing the course of travel of her car. I suggest things must have happened in a fraction of a second. It’s the saddest case to be judging, I recognise that.”

Passing sentence at the High Court in Livingston on Tuesday, judge Lord Mulholland told Ciociola that he took into account that he had entered the carriageway reserved for vehicles travelling in the opposite direction on a sweeping right hand bend near Drummuir junction on the A96.

“Having done this you collided head on with Morag Smith’s vehicle and the five deaths were caused by this catastrophic manoeuvre.

“Why you did this only you will know. There was nothing in the evidence to explain it other than perhaps you were distracted by checking that your son was asleep in the rear of the vehicle and, when your attention was returned to the road in front of you, you were disorientated.

“That may be so but there is one undeniable fact that, for whatever reason, you crossed into the opposite lane and collided head-on at speed with Morag Smith’s vehicle. I consider that your driving fell not that far short of dangerous.”

Describing the consequences for the occupants of both vehicles as catastrophic, Lord Mulholland said the victim impact statements submitted by the families of those who died "can only be described as heart-breaking”.

He said Keith Appleby, the husband of Audrey, described his wife’s death as “turning his world upside down” and he now had to rely on carers and friends as he dealt with the loss of his beloved wife.

Louise Matthew, the daughter of Edward Reid described her life being torn apart as a result of the death of her father and said that she and her family were “broken” without him.

And William Elrick, the brother of Evalyn Collie said on behalf of her daughter, son and other brother, told of the profound effect her loss had had on them and their family.

He told Ciociola through an interpreter: “I take all this into account when imposing sentence. I also take into account that you’re a first offender in this country and in your own country and that you have suffered as a result of the collision, losing your own son, your wife being seriously injured and your friend’s wife losing her life.

“I sentence you to three years imprisonment which I will order should run from 9 May 2022, the day you were first remanded in custody in this country following extradition.

“I’ll also order that your UK driving licence should be endorsed and you should be disqualified from driving or obtaining a UK driving licence for 10 years and until you pass the extended test.”

Crash victim Morag Smith welcomed the jail term handed down to Ciociola.

In a statement released through Digby Brown Solicitors she said: “Although I am surprised by the sentence I welcome it.

“However it also strange because in reality the damage is done and the length of time Ciociola spends behind bars makes no real impact on my day-to-day life. I now just want to get on with rebuilding some kind of future.”

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