Belfast Telegraph

Lisa Gow's distraught dad blames police for role in high-speed chase which led to her death

Lisa Gow’s mother Agnes
Lisa Gow’s mother Agnes
Lisa Gow’s mother Agnes with Lisa’s sisters Rebecca and Kellyann and father Peter outside court after sentencing yesterday
Lisa Gow
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

The father of a young mother-of-two who was killed after being struck by a stolen car in north Belfast blames police for playing "a big role" in her death.

Peter Gow was speaking outside Laganside Court yesterday after Martin Alexander Nelson (40) was sentenced to 11 years for causing the death of Lisa Gow on April 19, 2018.

Lisa's heartbroken father said police had completely misled him about a high-speed chase which he believes breached the PSNI's own protocol and directly contributed to his daughter's death.

"I'm still angry about the police chase," he said.

"They told me to my face that they were not chasing him - they said, 'We stopped once the helicopter was up'."

However, police helicopter footage was played to the court showing two police cars pursuing the vehicle along the Antrim Road and onto Ballysillan Road.

The court was told that Nelson was aware he was being pursued by police as a result of "blue flashing lights" and a sounding "siren".

Lisa had just dropped her two children, Olivia and Riley, off at school when the stolen vehicle clipped a Housing Executive van which had started to turn right into a parking bay.

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Lisa Gow’s mother Agnes with Lisa’s sisters Rebecca and Kellyann and father Peter outside court after sentencing yesterday

The video showed police travelling just seconds behind the stolen vehicle which was travelling at over 60mph at times in residential areas.

The court was told that experts calculated it was moving at 51mph when it was sent into a spin and struck Lisa.

The judge described her injuries as "catastrophic" and she would have died instantly.

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Lisa Gow

"Everyone was telling me the car was right behind him - now there can be no doubt about that," Lisa's dad said.

The stolen car previously reached a speed of 117mph as it travelled along the motorway.

Mr Gow believes if the police had not pursued Nelson, then the tragic outcome would have been different.

"I think the police played a big role in this," he said.

"If they weren't in pursuit then Lisa would still be alive.

"He [Nelson] would have drove to a certain spot to ditch the car, but they kept chasing him.

"They pushed him to go faster when they should have backed off and let the helicopter pursue him."

Mr Gow expressed disappointment over the fact that Nelson was given a three-year discount for entering a guilty plea, despite showing what the judge described as "little" remorse.

"How could he have pleaded anything other than guilty - he was dragged from the car," Mr Gow said.

"He has not shown remorse and I don't know how anybody can say he has - he is only sorry he got caught," he said.

Mr Gow also questioned Nelson's defence barrister's claim that his client possesses "limited intellectual ability".

"He wasn't stupid, he knew how to steal cars, he knew how to burgle without getting caught," he said.

"He knew everything that he wanted to know and he knew what he was doing that day.

"I blame him, but the police played a big part, too.

"If they weren't chasing him he would have went somewhere, parked the car and ran away.

"It's the only way it could have ended but he was prevented from getting to that point."

Mr Gow said that he finds the police denial of the pursuit difficult to live with.

The distressed dad - who walked out the courtroom with his distraught wife Agnes and two daughters, Rebecca and Kellyann, when the footage was played - hopes the publication of a Police Ombudsman report will soon bring his family a degree of closure.

"It will help us, but we'll never really move on from this," he added. Mr Gow said he also feels let down by the fact that Nelson - who has a total of 242 previous convictions, including 55 driving convictions - was bailed just a day before he killed Lisa.

"He shouldn't have been allowed out," Mr Gow said.

Nelson had only been released from prison in March 2018 and was serving the remainder of a three-and-a-half year sentence on licence.

Kellyann Gow expressed disgust at Nelson for falling asleep during yesterday's proceedings. He was also seen laughing and smirking on numerous occasions.

She added that her young niece and nephew were "going to do a life sentence" without their mother.

It was revealed in court that the children have been separated and now live in different homes as a result of Lisa's death.

A spokesperson for the Police Ombudsman said an investigation is ongoing and the findings will be published in due course.

Detective Inspector Stephen Harvey said: "First and foremost our thoughts are with the family, friends and loved ones of Lisa Gow.

"While we welcome the sentence handed down today, we fully recognise that no sentence will ever compensate for the loss of a loved one and I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and anguish suffered by Lisa's family and loved ones. Due to an ongoing investigation by the office of the Police Ombudsman, it would be inappropriate to comment any further."

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