Sean McElwee death: Driver jailed for killing Co Tyrone GAA groundsman in crash

A LORRY driver whose vehicle was on the wrong side of the road when it hit a van and killed a Co Tyrone GAA club groundsman has been jailed for nine months. Albertas Daskevicius (51), who a judge said had made “a terrible misjudgment with tragic consequences”, was also banned from driving for 10 years. The Lithuanian national, with an address at Bawn Court in Ballykelly, caused the collision by pulling out to pass a lorry that was turning left on the A5 between Omagh and Strabane.

Sean McElwee, (43) from Cookstown, died from severe injuries after his van was struck by Daskevicius’s lorry on April 11 2015. Mr McElwee was a respected member of Fr Rock’s GAA club and lived beside Paddy Cullen Park with his father Francie, a well-known former referee. At Dungannon Crown Court on Friday Judge Neil Rafferty spoke to Daskevicius through an interpreter.

The judge accepted that Daskevicius was “deeply remorseful” and said his actions fell just short of dangerous driving. He was driving his uninsured box lorry on Melmont Road between Strabane and Sion Mills when a 40ft articulated lorry he was travelling behind slowed down. Instead of slowing his own vehicle, he pulled out into the path of the Citroen Berlingo van Mr McElwee was driving.

Mr McElwee’s father was in the front passenger seat. Terrence Mooney QC, prosecuting, said this had left “an unfortunate Mr McElwee… absolutely no chance”. He said the “sole cause” of the accident was Daskevicius’s decision to move onto the wrong side of the road.

Mr Mooney revealed that Mr McElwee’s father later told police that on seeing Daskevicius’s lorry bearing down on them, he shouted to his son: “Where is that eejit going?” Mr McElwee snr said the lorry had “just come straight towards us” and that his son tried “to swerve left, but there was nowhere for him to go”. Daskevicius, who admitted his guilt from the outset, told police that after the lorry in front of him braked and indicated left, “he saw a big gap to overtake”.

Daskevicius said he saw the headlights of oncoming traffic but then “saw nothing more”, before adding: “I trusted myself to overtake and that’s what happened.” John McManus, defending, told the court that it was accepted that Daskevicius had “made an error in judgment”. “It was one single act which had such tragic consequences,” Mr McManus said.

Before sentencing, the judge said he had been moved by the victim impact reports, which described Mr McElwee as “a loving family man and a loving son”.

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