Killer driver says he was driving safely when he knocked down Sunderland teenager

David Baillie said he was horrified when he realised he had hit Sarah Jane Burke in Sunderland, but denies driving dangerously

David Baillie leaving Newcastle Crown Court
David Baillie leaving Newcastle Crown Court

A killer driver accused of hitting a teenager while involved in a road rage manoeuvre told a court he thought he was driving safely.

David Baillie, 40, accepts his careless driving was responsible for Sarah Jane Burke’s death but denies he carried out a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre in a temper with another driver.

Sarah, 17, was flung 20m and suffered catastrophic injuries when she was struck by Baillie’s Volvo on Ormonde Street, Sunderland, on September 17 last year.

The talented teenager, who was excelling on an art and design course at Sunderland College, suffered multiple fractures and brain injury, which took her life five days later.

Her parents and sister, who she lived with, were left devastated by her death.

Baillie, of Magdelene Place, Sunderland gave evidence in his defence at Newcastle Crown Court, claiming he thought he was carrying out a safe manoeuvre when he overtook a green Corsa.

Describing his actions, he said: “I accelerated past the Corsa then I saw a black figure in the middle of the road about 15ft away.”

Sarah Jane Burke who was knocked down and killed on Ormonde Street, Sunderland
Sarah Jane Burke who was knocked down and killed on Ormonde Street, Sunderland

After hitting Sarah, Ballie got out of his car and went over to the victim.

He said: “I put my hands on either side of her ribs. I checked to see if she was breathing.

“I went back to the car and moved it off the road. I then got out again, checked to see if there was someone with her, and then returned to sit in my car.”

Asked why he sat in his car, Baillie replied: “That is what you’re supposed to do in an accident, stay with your vehicle.”

Prosecutors claim Baillie was “consumed by a determination to overtake at all costs” when he ploughed into the teenager.

But while Baillie accepts causing Sarah’s death by careless driving, he denies the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Sarah had been crossing the road on her way home from college when she was hit by Baillie, who had a woman and small child with him in the car.

Describing how he felt following the accident, he said: “It was horrific. I could hardly breathe and I was shaking.”

The trial continues.


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