THE face of killer driver and Greenock drugs gang kingpin Lee Docherty - who caused the deaths of three young men in an horrific high speed motorway crash - can finally be published today.

Docherty, 38, was yesterday sentenced to nine years imprisonment at the High Court in Glasgow for killing David Paton, 27, Manveer Benning, 27, and Mark Downie, 31, in the smash nearly three years ago.

But in what was described as an 'extraordinary show of compassion', the court was told that Mr Downie's mother and the partner of David Paton have forgiven Docherty for their losses.

His nine-year sentence will run consecutively to the eight-year prison term he received earlier this year for flooding Inverclyde with class A drugs.

The court heard how Docherty reached speeds of up to 127mph before losing control of a hired Audi Q7 on a stretch of the M8 near Langbank, falling asleep behind the wheel of the 4x4 then drifting onto the hard shoulder and rolling the vehicle onto its roof.

Mr Downie, Mr Paton and Mr Benning – who had not been wearing seatbelts - were ejected from the car, while four other passengers were also seriously injured as a result of the 5am collision on September 19, 2021.

Representing Docherty – who was jailed in April for supplying cocaine, heroin, cannabis and pills as part of an organised crime group – Thomas Ross KC said the Gourock man is ‘very, very remorseful’.

Greenock Telegraph: Lee DochertyLee Docherty (Image: Facebook)

Advocate depute Gregory Farrell told the court that the men had been at a club in Glasgow city centre when Docherty picked them up in the hire vehicle.

The overloaded car, which had capacity for seven people but was carrying eight, then travelled on the M8 before the collision on the westbound carriageway, around half a mile before the junction for Bishopton.

Mr Farrell said Docherty ‘negotiated a sweeping left-hand bend onto the straight’ and hit a speed of 127mph before drifting onto the hard shoulder, where the car’s tyres scuffed a kerb forcing the vehicle down an embankment.

The Audi rotated and began to barrel roll, eventually coming to rest in a drainage ditch, with parts of the car having broken off.

Greenock Telegraph:

The advocate depute said there was ‘no evidence of any attempts at steering or braking from the driver’.

He added: “It is clear that the cause of the collision was either driver action or inaction whilst travelling at grossly excessive speeds and whilst the car was overloaded with passengers.

“Lee Docherty caused the vehicle to drift in a manner indicating he was falling asleep.”

Passengers Brendan Gillan, Dylan McFadyen, Michael Munro and Brendan Balloch were all injured in the crash, while Docherty was kept in hospital for two days afterwards.

Mr Downie had been thrown 40 metres from the crumpled car’s final position, while Mr Paton had been catapulted around 20 metres west of the vehicle in a field.

Greenock Telegraph: David PatonDavid Paton (Image: NQ)Greenock Telegraph: Manveer BenningManveer Benning (Image: Police Scotland)Greenock Telegraph: Mark DownieMark Downie (Image: NQ)

Mr Ross said: “I have to begin by acknowledging the emotional pain experienced by the friends and family of the bereaved and of course the injuries sustained by others.

“The knowledge that he [Docherty] has caused all of that distress would weigh heavy on him even if they were strangers to him but the fact that they were all very close friends compounds the pain on him.

“In those circumstances, he is very, very remorseful. Clearly, this is a matter he will require to live with.

“It is accepted that he was driving at a speed that was grossly excessive for the road.

“There is little doubt that he currently exhibits genuine remorse in relation to the matter.”

Greenock Telegraph: The High Court in GlasgowThe High Court in Glasgow (Image: NQ)

The KC added: “In an extraordinary show of compassion, the mother of Mark Downie and the partner of David Paton have been in touch with Mr Docherty to say that they bear him no ill will, knowing that this was the last thing in the world he would have wanted to happen and in those circumstances, they are prepared to forgive him.”

Judge Lord Clark told Docherty, who stood with his head bowed in the dock as family members watched on from the public gallery: “There is no sentence available to me which could even begin to alleviate the impact on the family members of the deceased and the others involved.

“A lengthy custodial sentence is inevitable.

“Had you been convicted after trial the sentence would have been 12 years imprisonment.”

A further charge of driving whilst over the limit for temazepam was dropped by the Crown after a not guilty plea was accepted.

Docherty, who has a previous conviction for attempted murder when he was aged just 14 in 2000, was jailed for nine years – to commence upon the expiry of his current sentence.

He has also been disqualified from driving for 14 and a half years and must sit an extended test to regain his licence.