A DELIVERY driver who caused the death of an Inverkeithing grandfather in a fatal fireball crash has been banned from the roads.
Wayne Strickland, 49, described as "one of life's true gentlemen" by his family, was killed after Alexander Cassidy's van ploughed into the back of his car on the M8 motorway in July 2015.
He was severely injured and trapped after the morning rush hour crash near Livingston, with his white Peugeot almost immediately exploding in flames.
Cassidy, 29, from Kilmarnock, who said 'It's all my fault!' and tried to open Mr Strickland's car door but was beaten back by the fire, pleaded guilty at the High Court in Livingston today.
He admitted driving without due care and attention on July 20 2015, causing Mr Strickland’s death.
The four-vehicle crash resulted in the motorway being closed in both directions for almost eight hours.
Judge Lord Clark disqualified Cassidy from driving with immediate effect and called for reports ahead of sentencing at the High Court in Glasgow on April 19.
The sandwich delivery driver admitted failing to observe slow moving and stationary traffic which had tailed back onto the inside lane at Junction 3 because of road works on the A899 near Livingston.
The court was told his Mercedes Sprinter van slammed into the back of Mr Strickland's Peugeot car, shunting it into a Kia Rio and an HGV in front.
The Peugeot burst into flames and advocate depute Jane Farquhar, prosecuting, said the fire “consumed his car and its contents” before spreading to the Kia Rio in front and the van driven by Cassidy.
She said the blaze rapidly grew in size and intensity but more than 20 firefighters rushed to the scene and prevented any further spread.
Others involved in the smash managed to get out of their vehicles safely and Miss Farquhar said: “The accused tried immediately to get in Mr Strickland’s car, which was engulfed in flames.
“He had to be dragged away because it was too hot and there were fears it might explode.”
She said a doctor who was in a car further up the slip road saw the fire and ran back to offer medical assistance.
The doctor saw Cassidy pacing the scene with his head in his hands.
She heard him say: “I tried the door. I tried to get him out, but the door was jammed.
“It’s all my fault! It’s all my fault! If I’d been able to stop, it would not have happened.”
Mr Strickland suffered traumatic injuries in the crash.
Miss Farquhar said evidence suggested the death might have occurred on impact and not as a result of the fire.
Cassidy was taken to hospital and discharged later that day. He voluntarily attended Kilmarnock police station and was charged with dangerous driving.
Mr Strickland, a married father of two and stepfather to four other children, had been in the Royal Navy before studying at Heriot Watt University and working as a business advisor with West Lothian Council in Livingston.
On the morning of the crash he had left home in Inverkeithing to drive to work.
Miss Farquhar described the tailback of traffic on the motorway as “an unexpected and unusual event”.
She said Cassidy's van had been travelling behind Mr Strickland’s car, but it couldn’t be ruled out that other vehicles in front of him had moved out into the outside carriageway – which was flowing freely at normal motorway speeds – just before the collision.
Miss Farquhar said a tracking device showed Cassidy's van was likely travelling at just over 50mph at impact.
She told the court: “He stated that as he approached the Livingston cut-off he was looking in his mirror to turn into the outside lane.
“As he turned back he saw Mr Strickland’s vehicle in front and he had insufficient time to brake and avoid a collision."
Barry Smith, defence advocate, said his client wanted to express "his most sincere regret and remorse at the tragic consequences of this accident" and his condolences to the family of Mr Strickland, some of whom were in court.
He added: “Notwithstanding inevitable disqualification ad interim as of today he tells me he expects his employment to continue.”
A statement on behalf of Mr Strickland's family said: "The family wish to take time to reflect on the events of today and do not wish to make any comment until sentencing has taken place.
"They request that their privacy is respected in this matter."