I hope this sentence brings you comfort, judge tells family, as she jails drink driver who killed friend in head-on smash

A Co Antrim man who was drunk and on drugs behind the wheel of a car when he killed his friend and severely injured another man in a head-on smash was handed a seven year sentence on Thursday.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 3:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 3:59 pm
Martin Jamison

Ordering 26-year-old Martin Jamison to serve half his sentence in jail and half on licence conditions, Judge Patricia Smyth told the court however “this day is about Dylan,” the childhood friend who was so tragically killed four years ago this month and about Richard McMullan who was left with “life changing injuries.”

She told the court she had statements from members of the O’Kane family including Dylan’s mum and brothers which had been “difficult and painful to read,” describing the 21-year-old as a “lovely young man” whose untimely and tragic death has caused “pain and suffering” for every member of the family on a daily basis.

The judge said while Mr McMullan had declined to take part in a victim impact statement, she knew the physical and psychological damage he suffered from the medical notes and records.

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Having jailed Jamison and banned him from driving for five years, Judge Smyth concluded her remarks: “My final word is for Dylan’s family and for Richard - in so far as the concept of closure exists, I hope that today’s brings some comfort to you.

“There’s no sentence that this court can pass that can bring Dylan back...or that can change what happened to Richard, I wish it were different.”

On the day his trial was due to start last March Jamison, from Turnarobert Park in Armoy admitted causing the death of Dylan O’Kane and grievous bodily injury to Richard McMullan by driving dangerously on the Coolkeeran Road in Armoy on 7 May 2017.

Jamison, also entered guilty pleas to driving with excess alcohol and driving while unfit “through drink or drugs” on the same date.

Dylan O’Kane was 21 and from Armoy when he died in the three vehicle crash on Coolkeeran Road, Armoy at approximately 10pm.

The former Ballycastle High School pupil was the front seat passenger in a VW Passat involved in a collision with a VW Jetta and a Hyundai car.

In a statement of facts lodged with the court, prosecuting QC John Orr said that from witness statements and site inspections from forensic experts, it was clear that Jamison had been “flying” as he overtook four cars in his VW Jetta which was still on the wrong side of the road when the impact occurred in a dip in the road.

Richard McMullan was the rear seat passenger of a VW Passat, coincidentally being driven by the defendants cousin Malachy Jamison, with Dylan sitting in the front passenger seat and the force of the impact caused the vehicles to crash into a Hyundai I20 which had been behind the Passat.

Tragically, Dylan was pronounced dead at the scene and a post mortem report later found the cause of death was injuries to his abdomen and chest while Mr McMullan suffered fractures to both hips, his right elbow and multiple facial fractures which had resulted in multiple surgeries and complications.

Jamison was also taken to hospital where a blood sample was taken and on examination, that uncovered traces of cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy in his system while a back count of a sample of breath put him at one and a half times the legal limit.

Arrested and interviewed, Jamison tried to put the blame for the crash on the other driver, even when forensic evidence and witness statements putting him on the wrong side of the road were put to him, claiming the other driver “had been going too fast.”

He further claimed there was evidence of drugs in his blood because he had only returned from a stag do to Ibiza four days before the fatal crash but as Judge Smyth made clear in jailing Jamison, he failed to produce any evidence to support his claims.

Lodging his plea in mitigation, defence QC Brian Kennedy said Jamison had “suffered enormous pain” at the loss of his friend Dylan, pain which was compounded by the fact that he knows he was responsible for the tragedy.

He revealed that Jamison had written a letter to the families where he conveyed his “sincerest apologies” to both the O’Kane and McMullan families and promises that “this will never happen again, nor anything like it.”

Jailing Jamison however, Judge Smyth said while she accepted he had shown remorse, “it would have been of more comfort to his family if you had accepted responsibility sooner.”

His plea and previous good character were some of the mitigating factors, said the judge but she told the court there were also multiple aggravating features including excess speed, that he tried to blame the other driver for the catastrophic crash and the presence of alcohol and drugs.

“The carnage on our roads is a source of public outrage, particularly when a young man like Dylan is robbed of a future and when the young man Richard has to deal with life changing injuries,” declared the judge.

She told Jamison that to overtake four vehicles “on a blind brow of a hill is clearly significantly dangerous” and a manoeuvre for which there was “no excuse.”