Friday 23 August 2019

‘My dad will never get his life back’ – daughter of Irishman killed by speeding taxi driver criticises sentence

John Byrne (69) was killed in Middlesborough on May 26 last year
John Byrne (69) was killed in Middlesborough on May 26 last year

Gabija Gataveckaite

THE daughter of an Irishman killed in the UK after being struck by a speeding taxi driver has called his three year prison sentence an ‘insult’.

John Byrne (69), originally from Galtymore Road in Drimnagh, Dublin, was killed in Middlesborough on May 26 last year after being hit by taxi driver Mohammed Naeem's vehicle.

According a report in the British newspaper Gazette, Naeem was jailed for three years on Monday for causing Mr Byrne’s death.

Teesside Crown Court heard that the driver knocked down the beloved father and grandfather at approximately 9.45pm at a crossroads in Middlesborough.

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

Further analysis of the footage found that the driver had committed 70 speeding offences during that six-hour shift.

Speaking to, daughter Wendy Lawton, who lives in the UK, said how his sentence should have been longer.

John Byrne and his daughter Wendy Lawton on her wedding day

“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.” she added.

She explained how her father had been going through a tough time after their mother Jenny Byrne had passed away, 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.”

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

Mr Byrne worked as a security guard and was fit and healthy at the time of his death. He has three children, Marion Harris, Daniel Byrne and Ms Lawton, as well as four grandchildren.

She explained that his death shook the family.

“His death was very sudden and it was a big shock.

“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. He died instantly,” she explained.

“We’re all going to miss him very much and it’ll never be the same,” she said.

He was very well known in Middlesborough and in Dublin. He had many siblings and 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 17 years of age.

“He was known as Irish John,” laughed Ms Lawton.

“He was very funny and had a big, bubbly personality.

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

“He was very outgoing and loved football, Middlesborough was his favourite team but he followed the Ireland matches too.

“He also followed the Shamrock Rovers, he used to go to lots of matches with his nephew Paul Gibson, who still lives in Dublin,” she added.

“They were great friends, he was only 15 years younger than my dad.”

Beloved father and grandfather John Byrne grew up in Dublin
Beloved father and grandfather John Byrne grew up in Dublin

The court process has been very difficult for his daughters and family.

“The last time we were in court we were there for seven hours as the driver had no representation,” remembered Ms Lawton.

“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.”

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