Belfast Telegraph

Family's outrage after killer driver avoids jail as he cares for two kids

By Paul Higgins

A killer driver was branded "despicable" by the family of his victim as he walked free from court with a suspended prison sentence.

There were emotional scenes in court yesterday as Judge Patrick Lynch QC announced he was suspending William Quinn's jail term because he cares for two disabled children.

One of his 70-year-old victim's daughters stormed from the court in tears, and minutes later, as he left the court, another relative told the father-of-two he was "despicable".

As Quinn walked on with his head down, avoiding looking at a photograph of the pensioner he killed, the clearly emotional woman shouted: "You should be ashamed. He has a great-granddaughter he has never seen."

At the end of his trial last month Quinn, a father-of-two from Larch Grove in Dunmurry, was acquitted of causing the death of Samuel Wilson by dangerous driving, but convicted of causing the pensioner's death by careless driving on the Old Ballynahinch Road on October 15, 2012.

Late at night in the pouring rain, and behind the wheel of a sporty Subaru Impreza, Quinn pulled out to overtake a taxi. As he approached the crest of the hill he ploughed head-on into the Peugeot 206 being driven by Mr Wilson's granddaughter Rebecca.

The pensioner suffered such massive injuries he died "almost instantly".

Freeing Quinn yesterday and banning him from driving for three years, Judge Lynch told him he was suspending the sentence because of his disabled children.

The judge said, according to reports compiled on Quinn's son and daughter, both of primary school age, they suffered from autism and Asperger's syndrome and that if he went to jail it would cause them emotional and psychological turmoil.

He told Quinn, who argued that the taxi driver should have been charged because he accelerated and would not let him pass, that he found his claims "very unattractive" and were indicative of Quinn "attempting to offload all responsibility".

Judge Lynch said Quinn had "grossly failed... to show enhanced diligence", given the road and weather conditions, adding that he considered the overtaking manoeuvre to be "an error of judgment, albeit with terrible consequences".

As well as reports on Quinn and his children, the judge said he had also considered victim impact statements which were "very moving", but that "no sentence the court can pass can assuage the sense of loss suffered by a family in these circumstances".

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