Northern Ireland

Sean McElwee death: Driver jailed for killing County Tyrone man

Sean McElwee, one of three people killed on County Tyrone's roads at the weekend, pictured holding the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Football Championship trophy in 2013 Image copyright Cookstown Father Rocks GAA club
Image caption Sean McElwee holding the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Football Championship trophy in 2013

A lorry driver who was on the wrong side of the road when he collided with a van, killing the driver, has been jailed for nine months.

Albertas Daskevicius, 51, was sentenced on Friday to a total of 18 months and banned from driving for 10 years.

He was said to have made "a terrible misjudgement with tragic consequences".

The Lithuanian, with an address at Bawn Court in Ballykelly, pulled out to pass a lorry that was turning left on the A5 road between Omagh and Strabane.

Sean McElwee from Cookstown, County Tyrone, was killed in the April 2015 accident.

Mr McElwee was travelling in the opposite direction with his father when his van was hit in the head-on collision.

His father survived and was in Dungannon Crown Court to see Daskevicius sentenced.

The Lithuanian was initially charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

The charge was reduced to causing death by careless driving, but sentencing Daskevicius to nine months in jail and nine on licence, the judge said his driving had come very close to dangerous.

'Nowhere to go'

Earlier, a prosecution barrister had stressed that Sean McElwee was blameless and had no chance of avoiding the collision.

The court heard how the former grounds man at Father Rocks GAA club in Cookstown had tried to swerve out of the path of the oncoming lorry, but had nowhere to go.

In the fleeting seconds before impact, his father shouted: "Where's that eejit going?".

A defence lawyer told the court there was no evidence that his client had been speeding or using a mobile phone and that the lorry was roadworthy.

He added that Daskevicius had not decided to take a calculated risk, but simply made an error of judgement which had tragic consequences and that he felt genuine remorse and guilt over what had happened.

Daskevicius did not have insurance at the time of the accident and he was given a separate nine-month prison sentence for that, to be served concurrently.

He was also banned from driving for 10 years.

Several members of Sean McElwee's family sobbed quietly in the public gallery as a prison officer handcuffed Daskevicius and led him away.

The judge told the McElwee family that he had been deeply moved by their victim impact statements, which spoke of their deep sense of loss.

He said they were clearly private and he did not intend to read them out in court, but assured them that he had carefully noted what was written.

The family declined to say anything as they left court.

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