Man admits trying to kill six children in hit-and-run

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Gerald Gavan and Billy McGregorImage source, Police Scotland/ Spindrift
Image caption,
Gerald Gavan's (left) intended target was Billy McGregor

A man has admitted trying to kill six children in a hit-and-run after they innocently got caught up in a feud.

Gerald Gavan, 22, from East Kilbride, drove a car into the youngsters after targeting Billy McGregor in Glasgow's Castlemilk area.

The dispute between Gavan and Mr McGregor is thought to be linked to the 2017 murder of Jamie Lee in the area.

At the High Court in Glasgow, carpet salesman Gavan admitted attempting to murder the children on 24 March.

He also pleaded guilty to trying to kill Mr McGregor in the same incident.

Gavan was remanded in custody at the High Court in Glasgow and will be sentenced next month.

A judge watched graphic footage of the children being hurled into the air as Gavan struck them.

Image caption,
Police near the scene of the hit-and-run in March

One 14-year-old girl - who Gavan also reversed over - suffered a broken neck and required lengthy surgery.

Prosecutor Maryam Labaki said the background to this crime was a "family feud" involving a "fatality".

She added: "Gavan is associated with one side of that dispute."

Gavan's former co-accused Gary Owen - who had his not guilty pleas accepted - is a relative of a man who is wanted in connection with the play park shooting of Jamie Lee.

The hit and run happened after Billy McGregor - also known as William Dearie - had gone to a local shop at about 16:00.

At the time the children were "talking and laughing together" in the same street.

As Billy McGregor crossed the road towards them he spotted Gavan's silver Vauxhall Astra heading towards him.

Ms Labaki said: "The car accelerated and steered towards Billy McGregor, travelling diagonally and mounting the pavement."

He failed in trying to dodge the car - but Gavan then carried on into the children on the pavement.

The advocate depute added: "As the car collided with the group, six of them were struck, causing them to be thrown up into the air in different directions.

"Two of the children who had been sent flying were hit with such force that they were carried over a parked car landing on the ground opposite."

'Wicked recklessness'

Distressed relatives of the young victims sobbed and one woman left the courtroom as CCTV of the incident was played to the court.

In the footage, a 14-year-old girl was seen being unable to get up. Gavan then reversed over her before driving off at speed.

The court was told he was unaware she was still on the ground.

The teenager was found to have a badly broken neck and needed an initial six-hour operation.

She later had a titanium plate attached to her spine to help her recovery and spent about two weeks in hospital.

The court heard her injury was "healing well" and that she will make a full recovery.

A 13-year-old boy was treated for a leg injury while a 14-year-old boy needed stitches for a knee wound.

A 13-year-old girl was badly bruised while a 12-year-old girl was treated at hospital for muscle injuries. Another 14-year-old girl required physiotherapy.

Billy McGregor had cuts to his arm and leg - as well as bruising - but "declined medical attention".

The court heard Gavan's guilty plea was accepted on basis he had "intended to cause physical injury" to Mr McGregor.

Ms Labaki: "In striking him with the vehicle - when immediately in front of the children - Gavan had no opportunity to brake in time.

"His actions amounted to wicked recklessness in respect of the children."

'Horrendous incident'

Gary Owen, 20, had also faced the attempted murder claims but his not guilty pleas were accepted.

Gavan and Owen, along with Ali Coats and Jay Gavan, 20, had further faced a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice in connection with the crime.

Not guilty pleas were also accepted for that allegation.

Gavan was remanded in custody pending sentencing on 25 September in Edinburgh.

Det Insp Peter Sharp said: "Gerald Gavan has today finally admitted his guilt following a number of months where he tried to evade justice in a cowardly manner.

"This incident which unfolded in the afternoon of Saturday 24 March in Castlemilk was something which will no doubt stay in the minds of the young victims for a long time."

The officer said the consequences, especially for the 14-year-old girl who had to have surgery, could have been much worse.

He added: "For anyone to play out retribution or aggression in a public area using a vehicle as a weapon will simply not be tolerated.

"For innocent members of the public to be caught up in this horrendous incident is unacceptable."