Gang member jailed for road rage killing

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A member of a notorious crime gang was jailed for 12 years today for the road rage killing of a van driver in a terrifying high-speed motorway chase.

Paul Lyons admitted consuming a cocktail of alcohol and drugs before ramming father-of-two Mark Fleeman off the M74 in Lanarkshire.

Mr Fleeman, 32, from Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, died when his van was sent careering across the motorway near Larkhall.

Lyons, a well-known figure in the Glasgow underworld, fled to Spain to escape justice but was extradited back to Scotland after he was arrested at an airport in Alicante.

The 28-year-old was at the airport in Spain to meet his young son when police pounced.

He pleaded guilty to culpable homicide and attempting to defeat the ends of justice at the High Court in Glasgow last month.

Today he was jailed at the same court for 12 years, with an additional three-year supervision period, and banned from driving for life.

Lord Woolman said: "As a result of your appalling conduct that night, one man is dead, another man was severely injured and has been left permanently disfigured.

"There were two important reasons why you should not have been on that road that night.

"First, you were disqualified from driving. Secondly, you were unfit to drive because you were under the influence of drink and drugs."

He added: "It is clear that you were prepared to drive with complete recklessness."

Shopfitter Mr Fleeman was driving to work along the M74 in the early hours of June 4 last year when Lyons repeatedly tried to crash his own van into him at more than 70mph.

The vehicles eventually collided, with Mr Fleeman's overturning several times before landing at the side of the carriageway.

His passenger, 17-year-old student Lee Allsup, also from Uttoxeter, was seriously injured in the crash.

Lyons, who was driving home from a night out with friends in Manchester, had been drinking beer and wine and took valium pills during the trip north.

Advocate depute Iain McSporran told the court last month that Mr Fleeman had initially gestured at Lyons because of his erratic driving.

He said: "It appears that the accused's response to this gesture is what led to Mr Fleeman's death."

The court heard that Lyons said to one of his passengers: "I'm going to sideswipe him."

He sped away from the scene after the van lost control.

Mr Fleeman and Mr Allsup were thrown from the vehicle as it rolled.

At just after 4.30am on June 4, a 999 call was made from Mr Fleeman's mobile but the operator could only hear the sound of a crash, the court heard.

Lyons was originally charged with murder or an alternative charge of causing death by reckless driving.

He was also accused of attempted murder or an alternative charge of reckless driving, assault to severe injury, attempting to defeat ends of justice and various charges under the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Lord Woolman told Lyons: "You drove at speeds of up to 100mph - that was the fastest speeds the van was capable of.

"It was cruel fortune that placed Mr Fleeman and Mr Allsup on the same stretch of road as you that night.

"In your condition and having regard to your driving, you presented a major risk to all road users."

"The lives of two men and their families - total strangers to you - have been shattered," he added.

Lord Woolman said they were "terrible events" that took place that night.

He continued: "After the other van went off the road and overturned, you did not stop. Instead, you drove off and took steps to make sure your van has never been traced or recovered.

"You have a criminal record stretching back to 1999 when you were 17 years old. It includes convictions for assault, the misuse of drugs, theft and breach of the peace."

Lord Woolman said the previous convictions also included road traffic offences including dangerous driving and careless driving.

He also said a third driver had a "nasty and frightening experience" due to Lyons' driving earlier that night on the same motorway.

Paul McBride, defending Lyons, said a letter had been handed to the court expressing his client's remorse.

He told the court: "He (Lyons) is truly sorry for all the hurt that he put them through and if he could swap places he would."

Mr McSporran also told the court that Mr Allsup had seen an "improvement" since last year and could be able to return to work in the future. Mr Fleeman's wife, along with other family members, made no comment as they left court.

In a statement read to the court last month, Mr Fleeman's wife Sandra said she was "utterly devastated" by her husband's death.

The statement, read by Mr McSporran, said: "He did not deserve this and neither did we.

"The stress that this has put me under has made me so ill. I have depression."

Mrs Fleeman described the day she had to identify her husband's body via a TV monitor as "horrific".

She said without the support of police, family liaison, friends and family, she would not be here today and had contemplated suicide.

Mr McSporran said Lyons was on bail at the time of Mr Fleeman's death after appearing at Airdrie Sheriff Court charged with breach of the peace and driving while disqualified.

Lyons is a member of a notorious crime gang based in the north of Glasgow which has been at the centre of a long-running feud with a rival family.

He admitted defeating the ends of justice by trying to dispose of the van he was driving before fleeing to Spain.

The Crown Office later sought a European Arrest Warrant, which was granted at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The warrant was executed by Spanish police and he was arrested in September at Alicante airport where he was meeting visitors.

Following a court hearing in Madrid, he was ordered to be returned to the UK to face criminal charges in Scotland.

At last month's hearing, Lyons pleaded guilty to driving dangerously while under the influence of drink and drugs.

He also admitted an earlier incident during the same journey in which he twice cut up another car on the M74.

Mr Fleeman had four stepchildren and five step-grandchildren.