A man who killed a two-year-old while texting and driving, as well as seriously injuring a teenage girl and six-year-old boy has been jailed for six years.
Luke Pirie, 24, ploughed into the three children, killing two-year-old Harlow Edwards, in October 2016. He initially blamed other motorists on the road, but the prosecution told the court how Pirie seemed “worked up” after suspecting his girlfriend of cheating.
Evidence suggested that he crashed only four seconds after receiving a text from her.
For the prosecution, Iain McSporran QC said that Pirie was witnessed and caught on CCTV speeding through Coupar Angus, and records showed that he had used his mobile phone for texts, phone calls and a video call in the minutes leading up to the crash.
Footage from CCTV cameras showed him speeding up behind a line of traffic. Cars ahead of him had slowed to allow a Citroen at the front of the line to turn right. Pirie attempted to overtake but, not seeing the Citroen, collided with it, losing control and hitting the toddler and her two friends.
Harlow Edwards was killed instantly, while the 17-year-old girl and the boy were thrown over a wall. The girl sustained a spinal fracture and was wheelchair-bound for three months while the young boy suffered a fractured skull.
“He was clearly unhappy with her,” said Mr McSporran, describing the exchanges between Pirie and his partner Heather.
“At 2.46pm, he texted: ‘I’m coming home’ followed by: ‘Cheat’ and: ‘You’ve obviously done something stupid that you’re afraid to talk to me’.”
Mr McSporran went on to say: “The tone of his text messages then changed to pleading with her to phone him. She sent two messages at 3.12pm telling home to ‘get a grip’ of himself.”
“These messages were read by him at 3.17pm. Within four seconds of reading them, he sent her a message stating: ‘I’ve crashed one Heather’, followed five seconds later with: ‘Heather I’ve been in a crash’.
Following the sentencing, Harlow’s mother, Sara Edwards, said: “We lost our little girl. It was extremely avoidable.”
“Justice had finally been done. We would like to thank everyone involved in making this happen.
“Although we are glad that a substantial sentence has been given we would like to say that this in no way matches the life sentence we are now living and the life that has been denied to our precious Harlow.”
She continued: “We can only hope our baby girl’s beautiful face will serve as a reminder of the responsibility that comes with getting behind the wheel of a car.
“And also of the dangers of speeding and distraction to drivers, passengers and also the person on the other end of the phone who continues to communicate with someone they know is driving.
“As a family going forward we would now like to concentrate on honouring the absolute love and never-ending joy our darling baby girl brought into our lives through the charity Harlow’s Helping Hand.”
Pirie pled guilty to causing death and serious injury by dangerous driving and, in addition to his prison sentence, was banned from driving for seven years and must re-take his test before driving again.
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