Mum-of-six who knocked down teen back in court
Death driver Alison McKeown, who knocked down and killed a 16-year-old boy after he threw a brick at her car windscreen, is back in trouble with the law.
Teenager Thomas McDonald died in 2001 after being knocked off his bike by McKeown, who chased him along a footpath in her car.
The mother-of-six was handed a two-year sentence for the killing in 2003 and was back in court earlier this month after being convicted of assaulting a woman in a Belfast supermarket.
McKeown was also convicted of disorderly behaviour over the incident, which took place at Dunne’s Stores on Annadale Embankment in south Belfast in September 2019.
She was due to be sentenced on July 8, but the matter was adjourned until later this year because of a mix-up involving probation services.
McKeown, who has never been pictured by the media before today, killed Thomas McDonald in 2001 amid searing sectarian tensions in north Belfast linked to the loyalist blockade of Holy Cross primary school.
Following her most recent convictions, Sunday Life approached McKeown at her Belfast home and asked if she would like the opportunity to apologise to the McDonald family. She told our reporter to “go away” before slamming the front door.
There was shouting from inside the house as McKeown began filming our journalist on her phone, first while standing in the front garden and then by pointing her phone camera out the window of her front room.
Irate relatives of McKeown later arrived at the offices of this newspaper, photographing vehicle registration plates in the car park and asking questions about staff.
McKeown is the mother of north Belfast drug dealer Gary McKeown, who was a passenger in the car when his mother chased and knocked down Thomas McDonald.
The killer, then 33, wept in the dock at Belfast Crown Court in 2003 as she was jailed for the manslaughter of the teenager. She was found not guilty of murder after a trial but had earlier been convicted of manslaughter by dangerous driving.
As she was led away, abuse and a death threat were shouted at her from the public gallery.
McDonald died after the mother-of-six drove at him and knocked him off his bike at the Whitewell Road sectarian flashpoint in north Belfast in September 2001.
The incident followed rioting between loyalist and nationalist crowds at the interface.
McKeown’s lawyer Jim Gallagher said during her trial she had been provoked when Thomas threw a brick at her windscreen as she drove through the Whitewell Road area.
He insisted that although driving after him had been a dangerous act, it had been carried out in the heat of the moment.
Passing sentence, Lord Justice McCollum accepted it was the reaction of an impulsive woman and her actions had not been premeditated.
Around 30 relatives and supporters joined Thomas’s parents as the sentence was passed. Members of McKeown’s family were taken out of the court by a back route to avoid confrontation.
After a hearing, a relative of the teenager described what had happened as a “circus” and a “joke”.
Thomas’s death came at a time when nationalist and loyalist mobs were attacking each other at a number of interface areas throughout the north of the city.
When McKeown was found guilty of the manslaughter, the boy’s furious mother Pauline McDonald said: “I hope she rots in hell. I have to go home and tell a two-year-old that she has to talk to a photograph of her brother and that she will never, ever see him.
“For a woman to kill a child and turn around and say she didn’t mean to and then go home and speak with her boy and have another baby... she had only five children when she killed my son, now she has six.”