Hit-and-run victim of killer driver left stuck on van roof as drunk sped off
A man consumed 13 drinks and a quantity of drugs before getting behind the wheel of his van, mounting a footpath and striking and killing a talented young student, a court has heard.
Tyrone student Enda Dolan was walking back to his accommodation along the Malone Road in south Belfast in the early hours of October 15, 2014, when he was hit by a van driven by David Lee Stewart (31).
Stewart - who had consumed drink and drugs prior to the fatal collision - drove with 18-year-old Enda on his roof for around 800 yards before stopping.
Belfast Crown Court heard that Stewart's passenger William Ross Casement (21), who he had been drinking with in the hours leading up to the collision, got out of the vehicle.
Witnesses saw him standing close to Enda's body, which by this stage was lying on the road.
He then got back into the passenger seat, and Stewart proceeded to drive from the scene before crashing into a lamppost further along the Malone Road.
Both Stewart, a father-of-three from Grays Park Avenue in Belfast, and Casement, from Belvoir Drive in the city, admitted a series of charges linked to the fatal collision.
Crown prosecutor Robin Steer said CCTV footage from Lavery's Bar indicated both men were drinking in the pub on the evening of Tuesday, October 14, where they watched a Northern Ireland match.
While in the bar Stewart consumed 13 drinks, which included six pints of beer and four Jaegerbomb shots.
At 1.15am both men were seen to "stagger on the road" before getting into Stewart's van. A short time later the vehicle was parked at Donegall Square East in the city centre and the pair went to Thompson's Garage nightclub.
They left at 2.20am - and less than 10 minutes later Enda was dead.
Witnesses prior to the fatal collision saw the van being driven dangerously, including undertaking a taxi and speeding through a red light.
Enda, a first year architecture student at Queen's University, was walking along the Malone Road when he was struck by Stewart's van, which had mounted the pavement. He was carried on the roof of the vehicle before it came to a stop. Passersby tried to offer assistance to the fatally-injured student.
One witness described seeing the van taking off at speed.
When it crashed further up the Malone Road Casement was able to get out of the vehicle but was limping, while Stewart had to be cut from the driver's seat.
Emergency services tended to Enda at the scene, but he displayed no signs of life. He sustained a broken neck and head injuries.
Mr Steer said that Stewart was also taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where he twice refused to give a blood sample.
He claimed he had only drunk two pints of shandy. A sample taken later that morning gave a reading of three times over the legal limit. Traces of drugs including cocaine were also found in his system. Casement initially denied seeing Enda's body when he got out of the van briefly just before the second crash.
Turning to Enda, Mr Steer said it was clear that the former prefect at Christian Brothers Grammar School was "talented" both academically and in sporting terms. He told Judge Gordon Kerr QC that Enda played GAA and was also a member of Omagh United football team.
Concluding the Crown case, Mr Steer said that at the time of the crash Stewart was "highly intoxicated" and had "made two decisions to drive".
He also said Stewart failed to stop following the fatal impact.
Casement, the Crown said, must have known the seriousness of the collision. He then got back into the van and encouraged Stewart to leave the scene.
Arthur Harvey QC, representing Stewart, said his client was devastated by the consequences of his actions.
The barrister revealed that during interview Stewart said that he was aware he had ruined the lives of Enda's family.
He told police: "If I could turn back the clock I would. I would give up my own life for that wee lad."
Mr Harvey told Judge Kerr that Stewart, an electrician by trade, was not used to drinking and was totally unfit to drive.
Mr Harvey called on Stewart's wife Samantha to tell the court the impact the incident has had on her family. While she admitted she and her family were "completely devastated", she also said: "My heart goes out to the Dolan family. There are no words to describe how they are feeling".
Stewart revoked his own bail whilst on remand. When she was asked about this, Mrs Stewart said: "He couldn't go out, after what he had done. There was no other option but to go inside."
Barrister Sean Doran, representing Casement, said the electrical engineer was only 20 at the time of the incident.
Mr Doran said that Casement "deeply regrets becoming involved in the course of events that led to the death of Mr Dolan".
He added he had expressed genuine remorse and shame.
Stewart is due to be sentenced for causing Enda's death by dangerous driving, as well as four other motoring offences.
Casement admitted aiding and abetting dangerous driving, and aiding and abetting failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
Both men were remanded in custody ahead of sentencing next Wednesday.