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Man jailed for six years after tragic road death

A DRINK driver who killed a man after ignoring pleas to slow down has been locked up for six and a half years.

Twenty one year old John Pottinger was described as “pretty drunk” when he got behind the wheel of his Volkswagen having been at a local disco in Burra.

He later drove into and killed 39 year old George Armour, who had been walking home from a night out, near the Bridge End junction at Hamnavoe.

Armour was hurtled over the bonnet of the car Pottinger was driving – but he drove on and only stopped when a passenger pulled the handbrake.

The apprentice plumber later said to police: “Just tell me…is he dead?”

On Wednesday, Pottinger returned to the High Court in Glasgow having earlier pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

He was back in the dock almost a year to the day since the fatal collision.

Lord Turnbull described the case as “utterly tragic”, resulting in the death of a “man in his prime”.

The judge went on: “This must serve as a warning to all drivers – particularly young men – of the dangers of drinking and driving.

“This is a crime in rural areas as much as it is anywhere else. The reality of drinking and driving is the same wherever it occurs.”

The court heard how Pottinger had spent the day drinking on 15 June last year before going to a disco. The event at a community hall ended around 1am. 

Pottinger was then persuaded to drive to a party despite having been drinking earlier.

Prosecutor Paul Brown told how Pottinger stalled the car around eight times trying to move off.

After eventually starting the vehicle his driving was described as “erratic” as he bounced over speed bumps with smoke billowing from the exhaust.

Two friends with Pottinger yelled at him to slow down as Armour – who had also been at the disco – could be seen walking on a verge away from them.

Brown told the court: “The car continued on the verge and struck Mr Armour who was thrown up and over the bonnet of the vehicle.

“A pedestrian who was walking ahead of the vehicle on the verge heard the sound of a car travelling fast, excessive music coming from the car and then a bang. 

“They did not hear any braking prior to the collision.”

Pottinger, however, drove on down an embankment into a field despite cries to stop.

It was only when a passenger pulled the handbrake that he came to a halt. His four friends got out and raced to help Armour, but Pottinger fled the scene.

However, when he was later traced by police, Pottinger said to officers: “Just tell me…is he dead?”

When he gave breath specimens just after 4am, he was found to be more than twice the then drink drive limit.

Armour, a father of three, died having suffered a brain injury as result of a severe skull fracture.

Defence agent David Moggach said Pottinger was “truly sorry” for what happened. Moggach added: “He still appears to be suffering the mental consequences of June last year.”

Pottinger was also banned from the road for five years.