TEXT MANIAC

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

Daily Record - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES MONCUR

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

LEWIS GEMIME

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

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