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Killer driver in new car offences

A man who killed a schoolgirl by dangerous driving has admitted new offences which occurred less than a year after the tragedy.

Martin Thomas McDonnell (21) mowed down Adele Whiteside (14) in south Belfast in September 2007.

But yesterday a court heard that he has confessed to since taking a vehicle without the owner's consent, criminal damage and obstructing police.

It happened just 10 months after McDonnell, from Garnock in the city, knocked down and killed Adele Whiteside.

The teenager was struck as she crossed a road near Finaghy on her way home from a friend's wedding. McDonnell received an 18-months suspended jail term for causing her death by dangerous driving.

But his suspended term cannot be enforced because it was imposed last November — after the latest crimes were committed.

He will be sentenced for the new offences next month.

His guilty plea followed evidence from a neighbour who told Belfast Magistrates’ Court of seeing the would-be car thieves “stabbing” at the car door of a Honda Civic in south Belfast in July 2008.

The man, who testified behind screens due to his fear of being identified, said he watched the men from behind closed blinds.

“For some reason they jumped out of the vehicle and ran towards the Finaghy Road South side, but the police car was coming up that side,” the witness recalled.

“They were more or less ambushed by the police.”

The court was later informed that McDonnell had decided to plead guilty. His co-accused has already been dealt with.

District Judge Ken Nixon adjourned the case until pre-sentence reports are completed.

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