Car valeter facing jail after colleague suffers ‘severe brain damage’ in showroom crash

  • Car salesman reverses Range Rover Evoque into a colleague at Taggart Land Rover in Thornliebank
  • Stewart Thornton didn’t look behind him before speeding backwards from a car wash bay
  • Victim fell into a coma and suffered ‘severe brain damage’ as a result of the collision
  • Thornton found guilty of causing injury by dangerous driving
  • Offence carries a maximum sentence of five years behind bars

Time 8:42 am, October 16, 2023

A valeter at a Scottish car dealership is facing jail after he caused a colleague to suffer ‘severe brain damage’ and slip into a coma by running over him.

Stewart Thornton was working via a third party at Taggart Land Rover in Thornliebank, East Renfrewshire when he sped backwards from a car wash bay without checking his mirrors.

The 40-year-old ended up ploughing the Range Rover Evoque he was driving straight into colleague, Karl O’Donnell, 51, causing him to bang his head as he fell to the ground.

The victim suffered a major brain injury in the incident and Thornton has now been found guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years behind bars and an entry point of 26 weeks in prison, according to sentencing guidelines published earlier this year.

Speaking during the three-day trial, prosecutor Sean Docherty said: ‘There was a road traffic incident involving Stewart Thornton and [the victim].

‘At the time, Thornton was driving a grey Range Rover Evoque and [the man] was a pedestrian.

‘There was a collision between the rear of the Range Rover and [the man].

‘The victim] was admitted to hospital at 11.20am due to the serious injury sustained during the incident.

‘He presented with a severe traumatic brain injury, he was in a coma and underwent emergency surgery.’

According to STV, the victim did not appear to give evidence at the trial.

Speaking in defence of his client, Thornton’s lawyer said he had been doing the victim a ‘favour’ at the time of the incident, which took place in May 2021.

Defence advocate David Nicolson told the jury: ‘Mr Thornton had his car ready to be washed but [the victim] had a pressing need to get his car washed as a client was coming to collect it.

‘Mr Thornton got out of the wash bay and he was criticised for assuming [the man] went back into his car ready to go in the wash bay.’

Following the accident. Thornton told police he ‘didn’t know’ what had happened and that he ‘felt sick’.

He admitted that he had not checked over his shoulder to see the man stood behind the car before speeding down the ramp in just 2.47 seconds.

Speaking after the defendant was convicted, Sheriff Tom Hughes said: ‘Obviously, the case is very serious which led to catastrophic consequences – I don’t need to tell you that.’

Thornton will be sentenced next month once background reports have been completed. He remains on bail in the meantime.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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