Virgin bank boss trial: Passenger of dead driver was also seriously injured

The passenger of a van driver allegedly killed by a Virgin Money executive's dangerous driving has told how he was left with multiple injuries

Gordon Soutar leaving Newcastle Crown court
Gordon Soutar leaving Newcastle Crown court

A passenger of a van driver allegedly killed by a bank boss in a crash on the A1 has told how he was left seriously injured.

Gordon Soutar, operations director with Virgin Money in Newcastle, is on trial accused of causing the death of Nigel Sowerby, 37, by dangerous driving.

Prosecutors say Soutar’s BMW drifted into oncoming traffic when he became distracted on the A1 near Felton, Northumberland.

Soutar claims he was suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnoea at the time and says he must have been unconscious at the time of the fatal crash.

Yesterday Mr Sowerby’s friend and colleague, Raymond Hammond, gave evidence at Soutar’s trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

Mr Hammond said he was playing a game on his phone in the passenger seat of their works van as they headed to Scotland on the morning of the accident.

The foreman, who said he had known Mr Sowerby for 20 years, worked with him for six years and considered him one of his best friends, said he has a very limited memory of the crash.

He told jurors: “What happened happened in a split second from my point of view.

“I just remember Nige shouted ‘Ray’ or ‘Hey’. I didn’t have chance to look up or do anything. The next thing I can remember is waking up in the ambulance.”

Mr Hammond said he was seriously injured in the crash which killed his friend and was for a time in the high dependency unit at hospital.

He suffered a fractured sternum, broken rib, fractured eye socket, broken nose, broken toe, swelling to his brain, bruising to his heart and cuts to his head and face.

Other road users told how Soutar’s car had drifted into the north bound lane of the single carriageway stretch forcing them to try to get out of the way.

Fireman Paul Cowell said after the crash that Soutar, who had to be cut free from his car, was asking what had happened. Mr Cowell said: “He was asking what side of the road he was on and asked “Did he hit me or did I hit him?”

Soutar, of Cairneyhill, Dunfermline, was doing his usual Monday morning commute from his home in Scotland to Virgin Money’s office in Gosforth, on November 12, 2012.

Soutar, 50, denies causing death by dangerous driving and the alternative of causing death by careless driving. The trial continues.

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