A DRIVER who caused the death of a grandmother who he “considered family” when he ploughed his car into a tree while high on drugs has been jailed.

Andrew Murphy, from New Cumnock was told that custody was “the only sentence” appropriate after Janet Girvan, 64, died in the crash on the A70 near Dumfries House in November 2022.

Murphy, 54, had levels of cannabis and cocaine far above the legal limits in his system at the time of the crash.

Ms Girvan, who was in the passenger seat of the car at the time, was so severely injured in the crash that she later died.

Murphy, of Ardnith Avenue, appeared for sentencing at Ayr Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to causing Ms Girvan’s death by careless driving.

He failed to maintain proper observation, failed to keep control of the vehicle and caused it to leave the carriageway, colliding with a fence and tree.

The road was closed for 11 hours following the crash.

The proportion of benzoylecgonine – the main psychoactive ingredient of cocaine – in Murphy’s system at the time of the crash was 133 microgrammes per litre of blood.

The limit in Scotland is 50 microgrammes.                                                                            

The proportion of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol – the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis – in Murphy’s blood was also above the legal limit of two microgrammes.

When he returned to court for sentencing last week, defence solicitor Simon Brown told Sheriff Shirley Foran: "He has worked his adult life and would have no difficulty with any community service.

“He is aware there is a wide range of available sentences.

"The offence itself is a very serious one; he is very aware of that. He has cooperated with the authorities from the beginning and a [guilty] plea was entered at the beginning of proceedings.  

“The deceased he viewed as his sister.

“He maintains the support of the family. He would comply with any options.

“If my lady thinks custody is inevitable I would ask you to take account of his age and limited record before the court.” 

Sheriff Foran said: “The circumstances are sad, with tragic consequences. As your agent has correctly pointed out, this is a serious offence in any context.

“[Ms Girvan] was likely a woman with many years life left in her. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother; it appears you were a close family member, and that I acknowledge.

"I have taken all the circumstances into account, but the only sentence can be one of custody.”

“The dangers of driving under influence of drink drugs are highlighted. You appear to show some but limited insight."

Murphy was jailed for 12 months – reduced from a sentence of 18 months because of his early guilty plea.

He was also banned from holding or obtaining a licence for five years.

In a previous statement issued through their solicitors, Ms Girvan’s family said: “We acknowledge the verdict but it brings us no comfort as the loss of Janet is something we still struggle with every day and the conviction does not ease this pain.

“We’d like to thank everyone for their support, but we request that our privacy is respected going forward.”