03 March 2006

'Justice has been done...'


**Please also see Remembering Emma Lynch and Christopher Shaw

Parents hope for maximum sentence as driver who killed local children is found guilty

Ciarán Barnes

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usA driver who killed two local children in a horrific collision should serve the maximum sentence behind bars, the parents of one of his victims said yesterday.

Michael and Martine Shaw were speaking after a jury found 44-year-old Wayne Johnston guilty of two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving.

In December 2003, Johnston was behind the wheel of a car that ploughed into 13-year-old Darren Shaw, his brother Christopher (11) and their friend, eight-year-old Emma Lynch, as they walked a dog along the Springfield Road. Christopher and Emma died as a result of the crash, while Darren spent weeks in intensive care. Thankfully, Darren is making a good recovery.
Johnston denied causing their deaths, but at Belfast Crown Court yesterday a jury took just 45 minutes to find him guilty.

Speaking outside the court, the parents of Darren and Christopher called on the court to impose a maximum life sentence.

Martine Shaw, the boys’ mother, said, “Hopefully he will get what he deserves.

“I just want to say that he has given every member of the Shaw and Lynch families a life sentence, so hopefully he will get what he is entitled to – the maximum sentence – because we have to live with it for the rest of our lives.”
The brothers’ father, Michael Shaw, added simply: “Justice has been done.”

During the two-week trial the jury heard evidence of how Johnston lost control of his Vauxhall Astra car on the Springfield Road on December 19, 2003, mounting the pavement and ploughing into the group of friends who were out walking a dog. Witnesses said they saw his car swerve into oncoming traffic and on to the pavement before the fatal impact, with the vehicle uprooting a traffic light and dragging it up the road where it crashed into the back of a parked 4x4.

Johnston had claimed he suffered a “blackout” because of a coughing fit after having lit a cigarette in the moments before the smash.

Christopher Shaw died shortly after the accident while family friend, Emma Lynch, lived for a few days on life support at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Tragically, medical efforts to save her failed.

Christopher’s brother, Darren, who is now 15, suffered a fractured skull as well as cuts and bruises.

Trial judge Mr Justice Morgan remanded Johnston into custody and adjourned passing sentence until later next month while pre-sentence probation reports are compiled.

Journalist:: Ciaran Barnes

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