Jailed: lorry driver whose carelessness caused man's death
A lorry driver who caused the death of Co Tyrone man Sean McElwee in a head-on crash two years ago has been given an 18-month sentence, nine of which he will spend behind bars.
Dungannon Crown Court Judge Neil Rafferty told Lithuanian Albertas Daskevicius (51) through an interpreter that while he accepted he was "deeply remorseful", his momentary bad decision was a case of driving that fell just short of dangerous driving. He was also banned from driving for 10 years.
Daskevicius, with an address at Bawn Court, Ballykelly, admitted his careless driving caused the death of Mr McElwee (42), a popular groundsman at the Fr Rocks GAA club in Cookstown, on April 11, 2015.
He was driving his uninsured box lorry on the Melmont Road between Strabane and Sion Mills when a 40ft articulated lorry he was travelling behind slowed to turn left. Instead of slowing, he pulled out into the path of Mr McElwee, who was driving his Citroen Berlingo van, with his father in the front passenger seat.
Prosecuting QC Terrence Mooney said this had left "an unfortunate Mr McElwee... absolutely no chance".
However, he said while it was accepted it was careless driving, the "sole cause" of the tragedy was the Lithuanian's critical decision to overtake and to move on to the wrong side of the road, which "created a clear and obvious danger to oncoming traffic".
Mr Mooney revealed that Mr McElwee's father later told police that on seeing Daskevicius' lorry bearing down on them, he shouted to his son: "Where that eejit going." Mr McElwee snr added that the lorry "just come straight towards us" and that his son tried "to swerve left, but there was nowhere for him to go".
Daskevicius will serve nine months in custody, followed by nine months on supervised licensed parole.