Driver Luke Pirie was sending angry phone messages to his partner when his speeding car mounted the pavement and killed toddler Harlow as she walked home from playpark
A TEXTING and speeding driver has admitted mowing down and killing a toddler as she walked home from a playpark with her big sister and a five-year-old boy.
Luke Pirie ploughed into little Harlow Edwards at 50mph as he was sending “angry” texts to his partner.
The 23-year-old was racing to confront her when his Ford Focus
Dad put his jacket over Harlow. It was clear she had passed away
careered into the two-year-old and the two others yards from their home in Coupar Angus, Perthshire.
Witnesses told how Harlow’s teenage sister Dionne and the boy – who can’t be named for legal reasons – were hurled more than 30ft over a wall in the incident close to the A94.
Harlow was the youngest of five children. Her mum Sara, 36, and dad Steven, 39, had to identify her body after the tragedy last October.
Her middle name was Elizabeth in honour of her granny, who was killed in a car crash in 1995.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard yesterday how Pirie left his work at Scone Airport at 12.30pm in a bad mood.
He suspected girlfriend Heather Eaton had been having an affair and had spent the morning calling and texting her.
After deciding to confront Heather at her home, he left the airfield and started driving dangerously.
Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC told the court Pirie was seen overtaking cars in Balbeggie, Perthshire, at a speed which broke the 30mph limit.
He used his iPhone to make a Facetime call to Heather just seconds before the impact.
He tried to overtake three cars but struck a Citroen before ploughing on to the pavement and into Harlow, Dionne and the boy.
Crash investigators estimated his speed to be about 50mph.
Harlow suffered devastating injuries and doctors believe her death was “inevitable and rapid”.
Dionne and the boy were sent flying over the wall, with both sustaining brain injuries and fractured bones.
Mr McSporran told the court how mum Sara is unable to cope with the loss of her daughter.
He said: “She has difficulty sleeping.
“She constantly thinks about not being with Harlow when she lost her life.
“She cries herself to sleep in the evening. She feels robbed of a lifetime of memories and she cannot put into words how to exactly convey the grief that she is suffering.”
The lawyer was speaking after Pirie, of Forfar, pleaded guilty to causing death and injury by dangerous driving.
He told the court that Pirie appeared “worked up” as he spoke on his mobile phone.
Mr McSporran added: “Text messages were also exchanged between the couple – the vast majority of them were sent by him.
“The accused was using his mobile phone for that purpose, from which it appears that he was of the view that she was clearly ignoring him and then that he suspected her of being
unfaithful to him. He was clearly unhappy with her.”
His partner replied and within four seconds of reading them he sent one back stating: “I’ve crashed one Heather,” followed five seconds later with: “Heather I’ve been in a crash.”
After the crash, Pirie denied he was at fault claiming the victims had walked out in front of him.
But expert evidence and eyewitness accounts contradicted his lie and attributed “sole responsibility for the collision to the accused”.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, the heartbroken family set up a charity called Harlow’s Helping Hand. Last week, Dionne – who was due to celebrate her 18th birthday just days after the crash and is now studying law in Dundee – wrote a beautiful tribute to her sister.
She said: “My wee teeny has been on my timehop so much recently and it has made me remember just how close we were and how amazing our bond is – also just how much I miss her.
“My best friend – the most beautiful, kind baby ever.
“I’m just so glad 11 months on we have our charity set up in memory of her, something that couldn’t better represent her little life and the kind of person she was becoming.
“Now she will continue to touch the lives of others for a long time to come.
“Harlow’s Helping Hand – ‘We all have two hands, one for helping yourself and one for helping others’.”
Pirie will be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on October 4.
After the crash, one of the family’s neighbours, Lewis Gemime, 16, told the Record how his dad, Paul, witnessed the horrific crash.
The teen described how his stricken father laid his coat over Harlow’s body, when it was clear that the tot had not survived.
Lewis said: “He’d been walking the dogs. He said the car was heading towards Forfar and speeding when it clipped a car turning into the junction.
“He was on the wrong side of the road to go round it and he lost control.
“He obviously couldn’t slow down enough because of the speed he was going.”
Lewis added: “Dad put his jacket over Harlow.
“It was clear she had passed away. He was really shaken by it when he came back. The family are lovely people.
“You’d see Harlow playing outside, always supervised, and she’d have a big smile on her face. She was always happy.
“Her parents are so nice. I can only imagine what they are going through. It’s heartbreaking.”
Another witness, who had been in his car, stopped and joined other people trying to help Harlow.
He said: “I was kneeling beside her. People were trying to give her CPR but there wasn’t any hope.
“She was gone. It was a terrible thing to see.”
VICTIM Little Harlow, top, and killer driver Pirie
DEVASTATION Harlow’s parents Sara and Steven Edwards. Left, Luke Pirie
BEAUTIFUL Harlow was described by her big sister Dionne as her ‘best friend’
TRIBUTES A bench in Coupar Angus, above, and flowers at scene, below