A boy racer put seven of his young friends in hospital by causing two horrific high speed crashes in the space of six months.
Lewis Moffat was waiting to go on trial for the first crash when he caused the second, demolishing a wall and leaving two women screaming in agony at the roadside.
A jury was told Moffat bragged about how he was going to perform a “handbrake turn” seconds before his hot hatch spun off the road and into a garden wall.
The jury was not told Moffat, 23, was already awaiting trial for dangerous driving after “showing off” and causing another crash just months beforehand.
After being convicted at Perth Sheriff Court this week, Sheriff William Wood told him he was fortunate the jury had cleared him of trying to nobble witnesses.
Moffat – who claimed he swerved to avoid a hare on the road – had been charged with trying to pervert the course of justice by telling the victims to back up his story.
‘A young man who has difficulties with driving’
Sheriff Wood said: “You are a young man who has had issues and difficulties with driving. I am not going to say what I believe or disbelieve because that is irrelevant now.
“Conditions existed for these charges to be brought by the Crown. You made certain admissions about the way you were driving.
“You are fortunate the jury didn’t reach a different conclusion, because if they had, the maximum sentence would have been five years in custody.
“Your interests are best served by learning the lessons and not putting yourself in this situation again. You are going to have to be really careful on the roads.”
The jury at Perth Sheriff Court was told Moffat claimed he had swerved to avoid a hare and had lost control and hit a wall at the side of the road.
The court was told the speed of the impact “demolished” the whole wall and left Moffat and his friend Ross Taylor having to free the two girls from the wreckage.
PC Garren Pilkington, 50, told the court when officers arrived at the scene the girls were lying badly injured on the driveway and were in too much pain to speak.
“They were just lying there, complaining about their injuries. They were screaming and moaning,” he told the jury.
Hand brake turn warning
The court was told how the women had warned Moffat against the manoeuvre after he told them he was going to pull the handbrake as he approached a 90-degree bend in the road.
Melissa Hunter and Megan Allan both broke down in the witness box as they described how they were left in severe pain as a result of the injuries they sustained.
Mr Taylor and the accused were also taken to hospital for checks.
Both women had to give evidence twice because the trial had to be re-started when the first jury was dismissed after two days. Some jurors had been overheard discussing the case during proceedings.
Moffat, of Blair Crescent, Auchterarder, had been facing a dangerous driving charge but the jury found him guilty of a reduced charge of careless driving.
He was found guilty of driving carelessly by repeatedly applying the handbrake and causing the Ford Fiesta to speed and swerve between Perth and St Andrews on January 20 2019.
Sheriff Wood declined to ban Moffat as any disqualification would run alongside the one he is already serving in respect of the previous case for which he was convicted.
He said: “Penalty points might be a longer-lasting deterrent. The jury found you guilty of careless driving as an alternative to dangerous driving.
“My powers are extremely limited and I am restricted in what I can do. I am quite dismayed to see you have a previous conviction for dangerous driving.
“Rather than impose a disqualification, I am going to impose the maximum points available which will be nine points – so any speeding offence will lead to disqualification.
“You seem to have an issue with driving and hopefully you will have learned your lesson one way or another.”
He also fined Moffat £1,000.
Moffat’s first crash
When the second crash happened in January 2019, Moffat had a trial pending for a previous incident of dangerous driving on July 1 2018.
In March 2019, he changed his plea to guilty and admitted driving dangerously and at excessive speed on the Dunfallandy to Logierait road in Perthshire.
The same court heard how Moffat put four of his friends in hospital after flying off the road, smashing through a fence and gate, and rolling into a field at speed while he was “showing off.”
Moffat lost control on a bend because he was driving too fast and the group of friends ended up upside down 20 metres from the road.
Fiscal depute Catriona MacQueen said: “The accused was described by all to be driving quickly for the road and they formed the opinion he may be showing off.”
Sheriff Gillian Wade banned Moffat for two years and ordered him to re-sit the extended driving test. She also ordered him to carry out 200 hours unpaid work.
She said: “You were somebody who had just been given a licence when you chose to drive this way, potentially endangering the lives of your passengers, yourself, and anyone else who came in your way.”