Northern Ireland news

Pensioner pleads guilty to causing death of grandson (7) by careless driving

Jackson Turner (7) died after a crash involving three cars on St Stephen's Day 2015

A pensioner has been told she will be sentenced in the New Year for causing a Christmas collision which claimed the life of her seven-year-old grandson.

Margaret Saunders (72) appeared at Belfast Crown Court yesterday where she admitted causing the youngster's death by careless driving.

Jackson Turner died in his parents' arms in hospital just hours after the collision involving three cars on the Old Carrick Road, Newtownabbey on St Stephen's Day 2015.

Saunders herself was left in a critical condition after the crash, while Jackson's four-year-old sister was also among six other people injured.

The pensioner, from Forthill Park in Newtownabbey, had been driving her grandchildren to their home in Carrickfergus at around 6.30pm.

She had denied a charge of causing his death by dangerous driving and was due to stand trial this week.

However, the day before the trial was due to commence, her legal team asked that the charge be put to her again.

After she was re-arraigned, a court clerk asked how she pleaded, to which Saunders replied: "Not guilty to dangerous driving, guilty of careless driving."

A Crown barrister told Judge David McFarland that the Crown was accepting the plea.

A pre-sentence report will be compiled on Saunders - whose son is Jackson's father - ahead of next month's sentencing.

Also compiled will be Victim Impact Reports which will set out the effect the Sunnylands Primary School pupil's death has had on his loved ones.

Judge McFarland said: "Mrs Saunders, you are now disqualified from driving. I'm not too sure if you have been driving, but as of today you are disqualified."

The Co Antrim woman was released on continuing bail and told to return to court on January 26 when she will be sentenced for the driving offence and will discover the period of disqualification.

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