Belfast Telegraph

Killer driver is jailed for breach

By Deborah McAleese

A killer driver who escaped a prison term after mowing down a 14-year-old girl has been jailed for breaking the terms of a suspended sentence by travelling in a stolen car that was involved in a high-speed crash.

Just months after he was allowed to walk free from court following a plea of guilty to killing teenager Adele Whiteside by dangerous driving, Martin McDonnell (22) was caught in a stolen car that crashed into a minibus.

At Belfast Crown Court yesterday an 18-month suspended sentence, imposed in 2009 for causing Adele's death, was activated.

But Adele's father Allan Whiteside hit out at the court action saying it was "too little, too late".

"I feel that the law let us down in our case. McDonnell took Adele away from us and yet he was allowed to walk free. Yes, the sentence has been activated now, but it should never have been suspended in the first place," said Mr Whiteside.

He added: "He may be serving the sentence now, but I don't feel any sense of justice for Adele. In fact, it has reopened all the old wounds."

Adele, who would have celebrated her 18th birthday this week, was walking home from a wedding with friends in September 2007 when a car being driven by McDonnell crashed into her as she crossed Finaghy Road South in west Belfast.

The Dunmurry High School pupil was thrown into the air as she was hit by the car, and knocked a distance of 170ft.

In 2009 McDonnell, from Garnock in west Belfast, pleaded guilty to killing her.

Yesterday Belfast Crown Court heard that within 10 months of that sentence he was involved in another accident while travelling as a passenger in a stolen Subaru Impreza.

Prosecution lawyer Rachel Quigley told the court that the driver of the minibus the stolen car crashed into said it was "absolutely flying" along the road.

McDonnell and the driver fled the scene but were later arrested at Lagan Valley Hospital.

He later pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle theft causing injury, criminal damage and obstructing police, for which he was handed a five-month jail term.

Judge Geoffrey Miller told McDonnell yesterday: "I have no doubt whatsoever that the breach by you was a flagrant breach of the sentence I imposed and that it is my duty, and nothing less than my duty, to activate that suspended sentence."

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