Glasgow bin lorry crash driver Harry Clarke admits motoring offence
The driver of a bin lorry which crashed in Glasgow killing six people has admitted culpable and reckless driving on a separate occasion just nine months after the tragedy.
Harry Clarke, 60, appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court where he pleaded guilty to driving a car in the city on September 20 2015 to the danger of the public, despite his licence having been revoked for medical reasons.
Six people died in December 2014 when the refuse lorry lost control in Glasgow city centre.
He admitted driving in the knowledge he had suffered a loss of consciousness while at the wheel of a moving refuse collection vehicle on December 22 2014, resulting in the deaths and leaving 15 more people injured.
He also knew he had suffered a loss of consciousness or episode of altered awareness while at the wheel of a stationary bus on April 7, 2010.
His licence had been revoked for 12 months on June 27, 2015 and the charge states that he knew or ought to have known that he was unfit to drive, and that there was a risk he might lose consciousness or suffer an episode of altered awareness while driving.
Clarke was not prosecuted over the crash, with the Crown Office insisting there was insufficient evidence to raise criminal proceedings.
In a rare legal move, relatives of three crash victims sought permission from senior judges to bring charges against him in a private prosecution.
However, judges at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh ruled in November last year the family could not launch a private prosecution.
Jack and Lorraine Sweeney, 68 and 69, and their granddaughter Erin McQuade, 18, Stephenie Tait, 29, Jacqueline Morton, 51, and Gillian Ewing, 52, died in the incident.
A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) heard Mr Clarke had a history of health issues but had not disclosed his medical background to his employers or the DVLA.
Sheriff John Beckett QC, who chaired the FAI, ruled the crash might have been avoided if Clarke had told the truth about his medical history.
On Friday, Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Clarke's licence was revoked by the DVLA on medical grounds in June 2015 after they became aware of the incident in 2010 in addition to the incident in December 2014.
His licence to drive cars was revoked for 12 months and his licence to drive buses and lorries for 10 years.
Senior Fiscal Depute Martin Allan told the court that a neighbour spotted Clarke driving out of the car park of his home in the Baillieston area of Glasgow at around 8pm on the evening of September 20 2015 and called the police.
He said: "Mr Clarke was rummaging in the boot of his car and the neighbour went home and told his girlfriend and they looked out of the window. After watching for 30 seconds to two minutes, both saw the accused get into the driver's seat, switch on the lights and drive out of the car park onto Buchanan Street. He was the sole occupant of the car.
"Both were suspicious about his ability to drive because of the media coverage and they did some research online and found that his licence had been revoked on medical grounds. They called the police at 8.04pm. While waiting for the police between 10.15pm and 10.20pm, they saw his car return again to the car park and it parked up in the usual space. He got out and went to the boot to get carrier bags.
"At 10.30pm, police went to the home of the witnesses. The police officers saw that the accused's car was in the middle of the car park in a bay. The accused's home was in darkness at the time."
Police went to Clarke's home on September 22 and he was cautioned and charged.
The court heard that he told police: "I have never been out on a public road, I've just moved the car in the private car park."
Mr Allan told the court that Clarke phoned Direct Line insurers twice on September 22 2015 and told them that his licence had been revoked in June and that there were allegations he had been driving.
The prosecutor told the court that in the later phone call, Mr Clarke said: "I do move the car because it's private property and I move it back and forward to keep it moving. I would have got shot of it if I could have but I would lose £3,000 because it is a new car."
Clarke was originally charged with three other road traffic offences relating to insurance and licence matters, however his not guilty pleas were accepted by the Crown.
Sheriff Martin Jones QC deferred sentence until March 31 pending reports.