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Killer driver Devlin who was browsing web on his phone warned he faces prison

By Staff Reporter

Published 21/10/2016

Edward Devlin
Edward Devlin

A killer driver who was using his mobile phone when he struck a telegraph pole which then caused fatal injuries to an elderly pedestrian has been told to prepare for a jail sentence.

Releasing 21-year-old Edward Devlin on bail until he passes sentence next Tuesday, Craigavon Crown Court Judge Patrick Lynch QC warned the apprentice plant mechanic to "be prepared for an immediate custodial sentence to be passed".

At a previous hearing Devlin, from the Leitrim Road, Hilltown, Newry, pleaded guilty to causing the death of Ian Leonard Bailie by driving dangerously on the Old Ballynahinch Road in Lisburn on October 28, 2014.

Yesterday, prosecuting lawyer Nicola Auret said a Skoda Octavia car was waiting to overtake a tractor and slurry tanker when Devlin, driving a works VW Caddy van, mounted the grass verge to avoid a collision with the car and struck a telegraph pole.

Mr Bailie, the court heard, had been standing at his gateway on the other side of the BT pole and it struck him. He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital but, Ms Auret said, almost a month later, on November 19, "he was found to have succumbed to his injuries".

The lawyer said witnesses described seeing Devlin getting out of his van to assist Mr Bailie, but that "he had a mobile phone in his hand which he discarded."

A forensic engineer examined the scene and from their report, it appeared "this was a relatively straight portion of road."

Devlin would have had sight of the Octavia and tractor for around 300 metres and for approximately 13 seconds as he approached the scene.

There was no evidence of excess speed, said Ms Auret, which was established through a GPRS device installed on the van which belonged to WAC McCandless. However, when Devlin's mobile phone was examined, it was discovered that it had been used to send a text message and for "web browsing" during the course of his journey.

During his initial police interview, Devlin denied using the phone, but during the second interview, when the phone evidence was put to him, he admitted he had sent a text as he left Belfast in slow moving traffic.

He further confessed that up until the time of the collision, he had been browsing Gumtree "to look at lists of cars," stating that as his phone locked and required a passcode after a certain amount of time, he had left it on the passenger seat and "admitted to keeping the phone open".

"That was the reason he didn't see the Skoda stopped behind the slurry tanker," said Ms Auret, adding that Devlin further claimed he took evasive action onto the grass verge "on seeing children in that car".

She revealed that Devlin has two previous convictions for careless driving, committed within the space of a week in March 2013.

While the court did not hear any of the contents of Mrs Bailie's statement or victim impact report, Ms Auret revealed that the couple had been "looking forward to retirement together but tragically that position has been forever changed".

At the very outset of his plea in mitigation, defence lawyer Tony Lunny said Devlin and his legal team "express our sincere condolences to Mrs Bailie".

"The defendant wishes to acknowledge the severe hurt and heartbreak that's been caused to her because of his behaviour," said the lawyer, adding that Devlin himself "has found it difficult to come to terms with the fact that he caused someone's death, it's something that he will never forget".

In adjourning the case, Judge Lynch said he "wished to reserve sentencing" in order to consider the matters which had been put before him.

Releasing Devlin, he warned: "I will advise him that although I have not determined what the exact sentence is, I think he should be prepared for an immediate custodial sentence."

Belfast Telegraph

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