Belfast Telegraph

Speeding Belfast killer driver is jailed

'Remorseful' father-of-two hit pedestrian with high-performance car

A father-of-two who admitted causing the death of a pedestrian who was knocked down and killed on a Belfast road has been handed a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence.

Stephen McManus (24), from Breda Park in the city, will spend 21 months in prison and a further 21 months on licence upon his release after admitting causing the death of Niall Harrigan by dangerous driving.

Mr Harrigan (25) – who at the time of the fatal collision was living in Belfast but who was originally from Armoy – was struck by the Subaru Impreza driven by McManus at Cromac Street on the evening of May 18, 2012.

Belfast Crown Court heard the essence of the dangerous driving was the excessive speed in which McManus was driving. A forensic report calculated the car was being driven between 45 and 67mph in a 30mph zone.

Prosecutor Peter Magill told the court: "Mr Harrigan had just started to cross the road when he was hit by the Subaru. Such was the impact that he was thrown into the air and projected forward into the oncoming lane, causing him to land on the bonnet of a Hyundai car."

The Crown barrister said six off-duty doctors who happened to be passing came to Mr Harrigan's aid, as did members of staff from the nearby fire station. Mr Magill said: "So violent was the collision of the Subaru with Mr Harrigan that he had sustained the gravest injuries." He was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital, but despite the "strenuous efforts" of all the medical personnel Mr Harrigan was pronounced dead in the early hours of May 19, 2012. McManus admitted to police he may have been driving over the speed limit and subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Defence barrister Richard Weir QC said his client had expressed "instant and real remorse". He said: "When he was told he had to have a priest brought in to him, so upset was he by what he had done."

Judge Donna McColgan said that due to eyewitness reports and the forensic report it was clear he was driving at "greatly excessive speeds", but she accepted his "genuine shock and remorse".

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The judge told the court she had received a statement from Niall's father, Owen Harrigan, which she said was "extremely heartfelt and dignified". Judge McColgan said: "The court extends its extreme sympathy to the Harrigan family." Speaking afterwards, Andrina McManus, sister of Stephen, said: "We are all upset Stephen has to go to jail, but we fully understand that Niall's family will never see him again. We want to express our absolute, sincere and deepest sympathy to Niall's family."

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