Antrim man jailed for death of nurse Heather Steele in high-speed collision fails to get sentence reduced
A Co Antrim man jailed for causing the death of a nurse in a high-speed collision failed today in a bid to have his sentence reduced.
Judges in the Court of Appeal rejected claims that a five-year term imposed on 26-year-old Neil McKee over the crash that claimed the life of Heather Steele was too heavy.
Mr Justice Stephens said: "This is a case of greatly excessive speed which was deliberate and persisted in for a period of time."
McKee, from Castleburn Road in Carrickfergus, was behind the wheel of a Seat Leon that ploughed into Ms Steele's Suzuki Ignis in August 2014.
Emergency crews who arrived at the scene on the main Belfast to Carrick road found the 53-year-old victim trapped in her vehicle. She sustained fatal injuries in the collision.
McKee had been driving well in excess of the 40mph limit, with one witness describing his speed as "phenomenal".
Another motorist estimated that the defendant's car reached up to 70mph prior to the crash.
In May this year the former G4S employee admitted causing the death of Ms Steele, "a dedicated and highly-skilled" nurse, by dangerous driving.
He was handed a five-year sentence at Belfast Crown Court, half to be spent in prison and the rest on supervised licence.
He was also banned from driving for seven years
His lawyers challenged the term imposed, arguing that the trial judge had taken too high a starting point in the sentencing process.
They also stressed that McKee pleaded guilty to the offence and has shown remorse.
But the Court of Appeal held that the proper discount had been given for an admission not made at the earliest opportunity.
Pointing to the aggravating factors, Mr Justice Stephens said: "It was not a question of a momentary overtaking manoeuvre with a high level of speed."
The judge confirmed: "We do not consider the sentence the trial judge imposed was excessive. We dismiss the appeal."