Former Scots footballer 'calmly' lit cigarette & drove off leaving man to die after hitting him with van | The Sun

A FORMER footballer who "calmly" lit a cigarette and "took off" leaving a man to die after hitting him with a van is facing jail.

Craig Smart, 44, a former striker with Montrose FC, who was driving his employers' white Ford Transit van, collided with army veteran Dave McArthur on the zebra crossing in Cardenden, Fife.

Dad-of-two McArthur, 43, who worked to help people with addictions, was using the zebra to go to a Tesco Express on Station Road in the town.

He was thrown 9.62 metres, landing on the pavement with such a severe head injury that he died in hospital two days later.

An eye witness described Smart's van doing "excessive speed" – though police estimated 20 to 27 mph – before "a loud bang".

Passers-by and Tesco staff called the emergency services and rushed to the aid of Mr McArthur who was lying in a pool of blood.

Smart got out and phoned his girlfriend saying: "I've hit someone".

A female voice replied: "Don't run".

But after just eight-and-a-half minutes, without waiting for the emergency services, Smart got back in his van and "took off".

He abandoned it nearly four miles away in Kirkcaldy, the High Court in Stirling was told.

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Scaffolder Andrew Tullis, 41, said he put Mr McArthur in the recovery position and was using a T-shirt to staunch his bleeding when he heard the van leave, so asked his brother, also at the scene, to follow it and get its number.

Former care worker Agnes Smith, 63, who'd stopped and brought a blanket and a cushion for Mr McArthur, said she came face-to-face with Smart.

She described him as "very calm… too calm".

She said: "His eyes were big.

"It was as if he was on something, but I didn't smell drink.

"He lit up a cigarette, then he was away."

Mrs Smith said Mr McArthur's mother then came across the road, and realised the man hit was her son.

The incident occurred about 8.04 pm on November 28th 2019.

Police collision investigator Paul McPherson said Smart had "failed to observe, or react to, Mr McArthur on the zebra".

He said it was possible his "attention had been distracted" by a passing car.

In evidence, father-of-three Smart, a floor layer, said that the first time he became aware that anyone was on the crossing was when he heard the collision.

Suggesting Mr McArthur might have "run" across the zebra, he said: "I think there's no way he could have walked across the crossing and me not seen him.

"For the last three-and-a-half years I've gone through it in my head every day.

"He was there in an instant."

He said he "appreciated" that driving off afterwards was "a terrible decision".

He added: "It was the worst decision I have made in my life."

He stayed the night with a friend rather than at his own home and handed himself into police the next day.

It was too late for officers to check if he had been under the influence at the time.

But he insisted, in answer to questioning by prosecutor Derick Nelson, he had "no reason to lie low".

After a four day trial, a jury of eight men and seven women found Smart guilty of causing Mr McArthur's death by careless driving. 

The prosecution had sought a conviction for causing his death by dangerous driving but after deliberating for nearly an hour the jury opted to convict of the less serious charge.

A charge being unfit to drive through drink or drugs at the time of the accident was withdrawn by the prosecution. 

Smart was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice by leaving the scene and turning off his phone in a bid to prevent arrest and assessment of his capability to drive.

Judge Lord Scott deferred sentence until March 29th at the High Court in Aberdeen for background reports, and disqualified Smart from driving with immediate effect.

He continued bail, but warned Smart: "The charges are still serious.

"At the moment a custodial sentence is uppermost in my mind."

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Smart's counsel, Ronnie Renucci KC, reserved mitigation.

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