A Kelty motorist who drove while under the influence of cannabis has been jailed for causing the death of a heroic nurse who was cycling to work in an intensive care unit during the Covid pandemic. 

Douglas Toshack, 51, was more than two times over the legal limit for driving with cannabis when he struck James Harrison with his Mercedes flatbed truck in Edinburgh on June 25, 2020. 

A jury at the High Court in the city heard how Toshack failed to pay attention on the A772 Gilmerton Road at its junction with Kingston Avenue and Mount Vernon Road. 

He failed to see the father-of-two, who had volunteered to work in intensive care during the pandemic, biking his way to work at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. 

Mr Harrison was in the opposite lane and was heard to shout ‘whoa whoa whoa’ moments before Toshack turned right and struck him. Toshack’s vehicle then drove over Mr Harrison, who died later in the day at his workplace. 

Police later discovered that Toshack had 5.1 micorgrammes of cannabis per litre of blood - the legal limit is two microgrammes.

Toshack stood trial on a charge of causing Mr Harrison’s death by dangerous driving. But on Friday afternoon, jurors found Toshack guilty of an alternative charge of causing Mr Harrison’s death by driving without ‘due care and attention’. 

They also found him guilty of driving whilst over the legal limit for cannabis. 

Following the jury’s verdict, prosecutor David Dickson submitted a victim impact statement to the court from Mr Harrison’s wife and two children. The document detailed the impact that Mr Harrison’s death has had on his loved ones. 

Mr Dickson told judge Lord Sandison: “James Harrison was 36 years old at the time of his death. He was a nurse who was working in intensive care at Edinburgh Royal Infimary and at the time of his death was on his way to work.”

Lord Sandison deferred sentence for the court to obtain a report about Toshack’s background and he refused a request from defence solicitor advocate Jim Keegan KC to continue his client’s bail. 

Lord Sandison told Toshack: “This is a very serious offence. It goes without saying that I’m going to call for a Criminal Justice Social Work Report. 

“I have listened to what Mr Keegan has said but given the gravity of the offence and the likelihood of a custodial sentence, I am going to remand you meantime.”

Lord Sandison also disqualified Toshack from driving. He will be sentenced later this year at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The verdicts came at the end of a four-day trial. Giving evidence, Toshack admitted to smoking cannabis the night before the collision. He said he was a father of two who had been taking the drug for the past 30 years.

He said he hadn’t seen Mr Harrison in the moments leading up to the collision. 

Describing the moments following the collision, Toshack added: “I was completely bewildered. I pulled over at a safe space. I got out to see what had happened. I saw a cyclist lying on the road. I was in a bit of shock. I phoned an ambulance straight away.”

Mr Harrison was a lead research nurse in cardiology at NHS Lothian and volunteered in an intensive care unit to support the Covid-19 response.

He was also an official for Scottish Athletics and an athlete and team manager at Corstorphine AAC.