28/02/2006

Man found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving

A west Belfast man has been convicted of causing the deaths of two children by dangerous driving.

After 45 minutes deliberation the jury unanimously convicted 44-year-old Wayne Johnston, formerly from the Highfield estate, of two counts of causing death by dangerous driving at Belfast's Crown Court earlier today.

Johnston was accused of killing 11-year-old Christopher Shaw, and eight-year-old Emma Lynch, on the Springfield Road in December 2003. He was also found guilty of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving to Christopher's older brother, Darren, then 13.

The children had been out walking their dog when Johnston lost control of his car, which mounted the pavement and knocked them down.

Outside the court, the mother of 11-year-old Christopher, said that both her family and the Lynch family had been given "a life sentence."

Witnesses at the trial said that they saw Johnston's car swerve into oncoming traffic, then onto the pavement before hitting the children.

His car was also reported to have uprooted a traffic light and dragged it along the road, before colliding with a parked vehicle.

During the trial, which lasted two-weeks, the defendant claimed to have suffered a "black-out" due to a coughing fit experienced after he lit a cigarette just prior to the crash.

The Judge, Mr Justice Morgan remanded Johnston in custody and adjourned sentencing until later next month pending pre-sentence probation reports.

(EF/SP)

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