Driver faces trial over road crash that killed five

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A man will stand trial accused of killing five people in a fatal road crash – including his four-year-old son.

Alfredo Ciociola, who lives in Sicily, was not in court to hear judge Lord Mulholland set the trial for May 24 at the High Court at Aberdeen.

Ciociola, 48, is accused of causing the crash on the A96 near Keith, Aberdeenshire on July 26 2018.

He has pleaded not guilty to causing the five deaths and serious injury by dangerous driving.

At the High Court in Glasgow on Monday defence QC Ian Duguid said: “The accused who resides in Sicily is coming over for the trial in expectation that restrictions on travel will be lifted by May.

“He will be flying from Catania airport which is closed at the moment because of the eruption of Mount Etna.”

Prosecutor Derick Nelson said the trial was expected to last seven days.

Ciociola is said to have crashed a Fiat minibus into a 4×4 after falling asleep at the wheel.

Fellow Italians Frances Saliba, 63, and four year-old Lorenzo Ciociola, who were passengers in the minibus died.

Edward Reid, 63, of Macduff, Audrey Appleby, 70, and Evalyn Elrick, 69, both of Aberchirder, all Aberdeenshire, who were in the other car also died.

Four others were also hurt in the crash.

The charge further states Ciociola failed to pay proper attention, repeatedly braked and then drove onto the wrong side of the road.

Judge Lord Mulholland ordered a further preliminary hearing on May 10 in order to check the trial will go ahead.

Lord Mulholland said: “This is to ascertain Mr Ciociola is able to travel to Scotland.”