herald

Tuesday 20 August 2019

'It's an insult' - daughter's fury as speeding driver who killed grandad jailed for just 3 years

Grandfather John Byrne (69), who was originally from Drimnagh, was knocked down and killed in Middlesbrough in May last year
Grandfather John Byrne (69), who was originally from Drimnagh, was knocked down and killed in Middlesbrough in May last year

The daughter of a Dublin man killed in the UK by a speeding taxi driver has branded his three-year jail sentence an "insult".

John Byrne (69), originally from Galtymore Road, Drimnagh, was killed in Middlesbrough on May 26 last year.

According to a report in the Teesside Gazette, taxi driver Mohammed Naeem was jailed for three years on Monday for causing Mr Byrne's death.

Teesside Crown Court heard that Naeem knocked down the father and grandfather at 9.45pm at a crossroads in Middlesbrough.

He had two female passengers in the back of his taxi and the court also heard that he hid his dash cam in the glove compartment.

John Byrne and wife Jenny on their wedding day
John Byrne and wife Jenny on their wedding day

Tough

Further analysis found that Naeem had committed 70 speeding offences during his six-hour shift.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Byrne's daughter Wendy Lawton, who lives in the UK, said Naeem's sentence should have been longer.

"I'd like him to do a lot more than three years. It's a bit of an insult," she said.

"He'll have his life back. My dad will never get his life back.

"He committed 70 offences in that day alone - he was bound to kill someone."

She said her father went through a tough time after their mother Jenny died, 12 years ago today.

"He really suffered after mum's death and always said that they were soulmates," she said.

"He was only beginning to get his life back but he really missed her and wanted to be with her, so that's a comfort at least," she added.

Mr Byrne worked as a security guard and was fit and healthy at the time of his death.

He had three children, Marion Harris, Daniel Byrne and Ms Lawton, as well as four grandchildren.

She said his passing shook the family.

"His death was very sudden and it was a big shock," Ms Lawton said.

"He was on a day out with his friends that night and was walking along the street.

"The driver was speeding and he was distracted and hit him going at 49 miles an hour [79kph].

"He died instantly," she added.

"We're all going to miss him very much - it'll never be the same."

Mr Byrne was well known in Middlesbrough and Dublin.

He had many siblings, went back to Ireland twice a year and was still very much an Irishman at heart, even though he moved to the UK when he was aged just 17.

"He was known as Irish John. He was very funny and had a big, bubbly personality," Ms Lawton added.

"He would always be making us laugh and was a proper gentleman.

"He was very outgoing and loved football.

"Middlesbrough was his favourite team but he followed the Ireland matches too.

Difficult

"He also followed Shamrock Rovers. He used to go to lots of matches with his nephew Paul Gibson, who still lives in Dublin.

"They were great friends - he was only 15 years younger than my dad."

Ms Lawton said the court process was very difficult for the family.

"The last time we were in court we were there for seven hours as the driver had no representation," she said.

"It's a bit of justice for him but it's not what we wanted.

"We're just hoping the law changes, because you can get that time for a robbery - not for killing someone.

"We're just glad it's all over," she added.

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