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Texting teen on wrong side of the road when he crashed

Driver could have wiped out family of five in head-on smash

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Oisin Hart, now 20-years-old, of Ashleigh Meadows, crashed while texting.

Oisin Hart, now 20-years-old, of Ashleigh Meadows, crashed while texting.

Oisin Hart, now 20-years-old, of Ashleigh Meadows, crashed while texting.

This is the dangerous driver who could have killed a family of five and an unborn baby when he crashed while texting on his mobile phone.

Electrician Oisin Hart was given a 15-month prison term on Friday over the horror accident in Co Down.

The then teenager was driving his Peugeot on the wrong side of the road when he smashed head-on into a Honda being driven by a mum who was 17 weeks' pregnant.

Jailing the now 20-year-old, Judge Gordon Kerr said: "Only fortune stopped at least one of the victims from being killed.

"No one wants to see a man of this age going to prison. However, this was dangerous driving on the wrong side of the road, with someone deciding to use their phone for calls and texts. Therefore, only a custodial sentence is appropriate."

An 11-year-old boy in the Honda suffered broken ribs and back injuries in the accident.

Hart, from Rathfriland, immediately got out of the car following the crash and told the injured parties "I'm so sorry".

He pleaded guilty at Newry Crown Court to dangerous driving on the Rostrevor to Warrenpoint road on January 6 last year.

The court heard that the woman and her husband were travelling in the Honda with their 11-year-old son and two baby daughters.

At approximately 6.25pm they saw a Peugeot coming towards them on the wrong side of the road.

The man screamed at his partner, who slammed on the brakes. Hart was observed looking down inside his car and not at the road.

Airbags in both vehicles deployed and the cars were written off.

The injured boy had to stay in the Royal Victoria Hospital for three days for treatment.

The two babies suffered bruising to the head and chest, with the youngest child's seat thrown upside down.

The male passenger also suffered bruising and the female driver was left traumatised over the wellbeing of her unborn child and her other children.

Hart told the police he had "just lost concentration" and could not remember making any admissions at the scene.

Records showed the defendant was using his phone at the time of the accident.

A call was made at 6.21pm and another at 6.23. A message reading "Well here can you ring me boy, I'm driving can't even text" was sent.

Other text messages were also sent following the calls.

Hart later admitted to having WhatsApp open on his phone but claimed he was not using it at the time and had "just looked down".

A defence lawyer said his client had "accepted full culpability from the outset" and was "sincerely apologetic to the family" involved.

"At the time he says he was not texting, but it is splitting hairs as the distraction was there. This is a man of impeccable character with no record. He has never been in trouble with the police," he added.

Judge Kerr ordered Hart to serve half his 15-month sentence in custody and the rest on licence and banned him from the road for two years.

He alluded to references portraying the defendant as a man of an "excellent background" but said a deterrent sentence was necessary.

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