‘Killer driver could do it again’ warns grieving dad

JAILED ... David Baillie, inset left, was jailed after causing the death of Sarah Jane Burke, inset right, in his blue Volvo.
JAILED ... David Baillie, inset left, was jailed after causing the death of Sarah Jane Burke, inset right, in his blue Volvo.

A DEVASTATED dad fears his daughter’s killer could take another life if he is allowed back on the roads again.

Stephen Burke’s 17-year-old daughter, Sarah Jane, died five days after she was hit by danger-driver David Baillie as she crossed Ormonde Street in Sunderland on her way home from college last September.

Baillie has been in prison before for his bad driving and has a long record of motoring offences, but was able to work as a taxi driver.

After the 40-year-old was put behind bars for seven years at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, Sarah’s heartbroken dad said more must be done to stop dangerous road menaces from getting back behind the wheel.

Baillie, who has 12 convictions for theft and attempted theft of vehicles, six for taking without consent, eight for driving while disqualified and has been banned from the road nine times, was banned from driving for seven years yesterday, but Sarah’s family believe lifetime bans are needed for some drivers.

The grieving family are working with road safety charity Brake in calling for tough minimum sentences.

Mr Burke said he could not understand how Baillie, who was off duty from his taxi job when he killed Sarah, was allowed to drive with such a prolific record.

Mr Burke said: “His barrister said people make mistakes, but how many mistakes can you make?

“We feel he is going to be a danger again once allowed back on the roads.

“There has to be a deterrent now, I am not just speaking for us as a family, I am speaking for everyone who has suffered and everyone who will.”

The court heard Sarah, a student excelling in her art and design course at Sunderland College, suffered multiple fractures and brain injury when she was hit by Baillie’s Volvo S60.

The dad of three had been “consumed by determination to overtake at all costs”, as he dangerously drove into the wrong side of the road to get past a Vauxhall Corsa in front of him.

Baillie had been “tailgating” the other vehicle from Barnes Park Road and one witness said he looked like he had “road rage”.

He had admitted causing Sarah’s death by careless driving, but denied his behaviour was dangerous.

Baillie said he had helped Sarah as she lay injured, but his claim was rubbished by witnesses.

Jurors took just over an hour to find Baillie, of Magdelene Place, Sunderland, guilty of causing her death by dangerous driving.

At the sentencing, Nick Dry, prosecuting, read extracts of the victim impact statements made by Sarah’s mum, Theresa, and her older sister, Melisa, who was her “best friend”.

Mr Dry said Sarah came from a strong and loving family, who described her as “happy an full of laughter and fun”.

The court heard this year would have been Sarah’s 18th birthday, her sister’s 21st and both parents turn 50.

The family were due to have a holiday together to celebrate their special milestones, but the remaining members were forced to go alone.

Sarah saved and improved the lives of five people when her organs were donated after her death.

The family have also raised funds for the air ambulance, which took Sarah to hospital from the scene.

Judge Paul Sloan QC told Baillie: “No sentence I pass could ever begin to ease the pain they have suffered, the pain they continue to suffer, for it is a life sentence they will have to endure as a result of your callous disregard for the safety of others.”

The judge said Baillie had tried but failed to deceive the jury and that what happened to Sarah was “entirely your fault”.

Judge Sloan added: “She had everything to look forward to, that young life was cut short and the hopes and expectations surrounding that life were brutally shattered by you.”

After the hearing, Sgt. Kevin Hindhaugh said Baillie was “devious, controlling and manipulative”.

Twitter: @shieldsgazette