Family speak out as driver admits death by dangerous driving

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The grieving family of Laura Thomas have spoken out following Ian Smith’s court appearance on Thursday last week when he pled guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at the High Court in Glasgow.

Laura’s mother Sherri travelled to Glasgow with her family and some of Laura’s friends to attend the hearing.

Laura’s sister and her friends wore bright green t-shirts with different photographs of Laura printed on them in a moving tribute to the 19-year-old.

Speaking to the Herald upon her return to Rosehearty, she said: “I feel a bit shell shocked and am still processing all the new information that I found out at the hearing.

“It has been, and probably will continue to be, a very painful and an empty life that I now have to live without Laura.

“Laura was the ‘life and soul’ of everywhere she went. Always smiling or laughing, she would manage to turn someone’s sad face into a smile.

“She was one in a million and I am very proud of her with everything she was and everything that she did.

“Not only have we lost a daughter and sister but a brilliant true friend too. It’s absolutely soul destroying. Words are very difficult to try and explain properly the tragic loss of Laura.”

Laura died after her car was involved in a collision with a vehicle being driven by Ian Smith of Memsie on the A891 Fraserburgh to Strichen road on September 5 last year.

The High Court in Glasgow heard last week that Smith was almost twice the legal drink-drive limit when he lost control of his Renault Megane, swerved onto the opposite carriageway and struck Laura’s Ford Ka.

Prosecutors said the accused had been drinking with friends at his parents’ house before giving a friend a lift to a dance.

Three passengers in Laura’s car suffered injuries including broken bones, while Smith himself was knocked unconscious but recovered at the scene.

Sentence was deferred by Lord Bracadale until later this month for background reports. Smith has been bailed meantime and banned from driving in the interim.

Laura lived in Rosehearty with her sister Kelli, having moved to the area in 2001 from Bristol. Laura attended Bracoden primary school in the village of Gardenstown and then went onto Banff Academy, leaving at 16 to go to Banff and Buchan college to do a two-year course in hairdressing.

Her mum Sherri added: “Laura was a huge animal lover and she was a kind and considerate girl who would help anyone if it was possible for her to do so.

“She was always making sure that the people she cared about were okay – if they were sad she would make them happy. She was also like an agony aunt to some of her friends.

“It’s not a normal part of growing old through our life’s cycle to bury your child. It is the worst thing ever to happen in your life. Unfortunately, the memory of identifying my child in the morgue will never leave me.”