A GRIEVING mum whose eight-year-old son was killed in a road tragedy as he walked down a country road to catch a bus to school has emotionally told how her boy ‘would still be alive’ if she hadn’t got herself banned from driving at the time.
Sarah Hanna (34) was speaking outside Coleraine Magistrates Court on Friday where she was given a suspended jail term after being caught driving whilst disqualified just two months before her boy Adam Gilmour was killed in Cloughmills, in November, 2014.
She had been originally banned from the road in July 2013 for 18 months which meant she was unable to drive her children on that fateful day her child was killed and she and five of her other children were struck by a vehicle as they walked along a country road.
Speaking to the press after the court hearing on Friday she admitted if she had not been banned from driving “Adam wouldn’t have been killed. I would have took them in the car, I wouldn’t have walked down that road.”
And she told how the day she was caught driving her mum’s Peugeot 807 whilst disqualified in September, 2014, Adam and her other children were in the car with her on the way home from Clough Primary School.
She said her original ban was for 18 months in July 11, 2013, for driving without insurance.
She admitted she was in the wrong and know is fully aware of the heartbreak that can arise from the roads. Her message to anybody else thinking about driving whilst disqualified was: “Don’t do it”.
She added: “When I was driving getting the wee-ins from school that day I could have crashed or done something”.
Adam’s grandmother Marlene Hanna, who accompanied her daughter to court, added that people should “think what they are doing” before they go out on the road.
Sarah confirmed she was still using a crutch because of her injuries caused in the crash at Loughill Road, Cloughmills, in which Adam died and she and one of her other children, Ryan who was six at the time, received serious injuries.
When asked if they would like to say anything else, Marlene responded: “What can we say, nothing we can say will bring Adam back.”
Marlene Hanna also said her car was scrapped by the authorities because of the road traffic offences which meant she did not have the vehicle to have taken the children to school on the day Adam died.
Marlene added: “I know Sarah was in the wrong taking the car. But if the police hadn’t taken the car away and scrapped it because she was driving with no insurance I would have been driving the kids to school.
“That car was insured in my name but they lifted it and took it instead of phoning me to come and get my car.
“They scrapped the car because Sarah was driving it with no insurance but it was insured under my name. To me they should have phoned me and said ‘can you come and collect this vehicle’ but they didn’t.”
Marlene said she was at the hospital with Sarah’s father on the day he was diagnosed with cancer and Sarah had told police the vehicle was insured in her mother’s name.
Sarah added: “They took it and it was crushed”.
Sarah said she did not have a car as her mum “did most of the driving” and Marlene said when Sarah was with her former partner he did most of the driving.
In the courtroom, Sarah used her crutch to aid her into the dock as a prosecutor said at 3.25pm on September 4, 2014, police on mobile patrol in Cloughmills saw a Peugeot 807 drive into a petrol station and it emerged the driver Sarah Hanna had been disqualified from driving.
The vehicle belonged to Ms Hanna’s mother who was on holiday at the time and Sarah did not have permission to drive the vehicle.
She had initially been banned from driving for 18 months from July 11, 2013, the prosecutor said.
Regarding the September 4 offences she said Sarah Hanna made admissions to police when interviewed.
A defence barrister said his client had suffered “tragic circumstances” since but there had been no further offending.
He said “very tragic circumstances followed” the incident.
Sentencing Ms Hanna to three months in jail, suspended for one year, and banning her from the road for a year, District Judge Peter King wished to pass on his sympathy regarding the death of her son but he said the court takes a “dim view” of people who drive whilst disqualified.
Meanwhile, outside the court Marlene Hanna said the case is still running in connection with a suspect regarding the collision which killed Adam and said they still haven’t been able to register Adam’s death yet.
She said the pace of proceedings “was ridiculous”.
Sarah said she is still arguing with education chiefs about school transport and now lives at Ballyveely Road in the Cloughmills area.
She said Ryan, who was injured the day Adam died, gets a taxi in the morning to Clough Primary School “because he can’t walk because of a broken femur bone and I can’t walk to a bus stop”.
She said all the children can then get the taxi in the morning “and at 2pm he (Ryan) is being brought home but they (the authorities) are trying to cancel that on me, trying to say that it is only special circumstances that we can keep this transport up and MLA Jim Allister wrote to them saying I can’t walk but they don’t seem to care”.