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'Adam would still be alive if I hadn't got my licence suspended'

Mum of boy (8) hit by car while walking to catch school bus in dock for flouting driving ban

By Nevin Farrell

Published 30/01/2016

Sarah Hanna at court yesterday
Sarah Hanna at court yesterday
Sarah's son Adam Gilmour
The scene of the collision

A grieving mum whose eight-year-old son was knocked down as he walked down a country road to catch a bus to school has told how he would still be alive if she had not got herself banned from driving.

Sarah Hanna (34) was speaking outside Coleraine Magistrates Court yesterday, where she was given a suspended jail term after being caught driving while disqualified just two months before her son Adam Gilmour died in Cloughmills, Co Antrim, in November 2014.

The grieving mum had been banned from the road in July 2013 for 18 months, which meant she was unable to drive her family on that fateful day when she and her six children were struck by a vehicle.

Speaking after the court hearing, Sarah admitted that if she had not been banned "Adam wouldn't have been killed. I would have taken them in the car, I wouldn't have walked down that road".

She explained that the day she was caught driving her mum's Peugeot 807 while disqualified, Adam and her other children were the passengers, and she was on the way home from Clough Primary School.

Sarah said she had been banned for 18 months for driving without insurance, and admitted to police that she was in the wrong.

Having personal experience of the heartbreak that can arise from road tragedies, her message to anybody else thinking about driving while disqualified was: "Don't do it."

"When I was driving, getting the wee ones from school that day, I could have crashed or done something," she said.

Adam's grandmother Marlene Hanna, who accompanied her daughter to court yesterday, added that people should "think what they are doing" before they get behind the wheel of a car.

Sarah is still using a crutch because of the injuries she sustained in the crash in which Adam died and another of her children, Ryan, who was six at the time, suffered serious injuries.

When asked if they would like to say anything else, Marlene responded: "What can we say? Nothing we can say will bring Adam back."

Marlene said that her daughter told police at the time the vehicle was insured in her mother's name.

Sarah said she did not have a car as her mum "did most of the driving".

And Marlene said when Sarah was with her former partner he did most of the driving.

In the courtroom, a prosecutor said that at 3.25pm on September 4, 2014, police on mobile patrol in Cloughmills observed a Peugeot 807 drive into a petrol station.

It then emerged after checks by the officers that the person behind the wheel, Sarah Hanna, had been disqualified from driving.

The prosecutor added that the vehicle belonged to Sarah's mother - who was on holiday at the time - and Sarah did not have permission to drive the vehicle.

She had initially been banned from driving for 18 months from July 11, 2013, the prosecutor said.

Regarding the September 4 offences, the prosecutor said Sarah made admissions to police when interviewed.

A defence barrister told how his client had suffered "tragic circumstances" since, but there had been no further offending.

He said "very tragic circumstances followed" the incident. Sentencing Sarah Hanna to three months in jail, suspended for one year, and banning her from the road for a year, District Judge Peter King passed on his sympathy regarding the death of her son, but said the court took a "dim view" of people who drove while disqualified.

Outside the court Marlene said the case was still running in connection with a suspect regarding the collision in which Adam died.

She revealed the family still had not been able to register Adam's death.

And she attacked the pace of proceedings as "ridiculous".

Sarah said she was still arguing with education chiefs about school transport, and now lives at Ballyveely Road in the Cloughmills area.

She said Ryan, who is still recovering, gets a taxi in the morning to Clough Primary "as he cannot walk because of a broken femur, and I cannot walk to a bus stop".

Sarah was only able to return to the site of the crash for the first time last October - a whole year after her son's death.

She told the Belfast Telegraph then that she could not remember the crash. The last thing she recalls is putting her children to bed the night before, and then waking up in the hospital the following day and being told Adam had died.

The site on the Loughill Road in Cloughmills where Adam died is marked with flowers, teddy bears and his beloved Chelsea football top in memory of him. The family have spoken about their desire to one day place a permanent memorial to Adam at that site on the road.

So far, no one has been brought to justice for the crash, a fact which the family say exacerbates their grief.

A special assembly service was held at Clough Primary School in memory of the popular boy.

Belfast Telegraph

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