Banned driver admits road rage death

Court told attacker fled to Spain after killing in attempt to escape justice
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The Independent Online

A notorious Glaswegian criminal has admitted to a road rage attack which sent a van driver careering to his death on a busy motorway, a court heard yesterday.

Paul Lyons, 28, rammed Mark Fleeman's van off the M74 motorway near Larkhall, Lanarkshire, in June last year, the High Court in Glasgow was told. Lyons was returning home from a night out in Manchester, when Mr Fleeman, 32, allegedly gestured at him to point out his erratic driving.

The court heard that Lyons, who was banned from driving and under the influence of wine, beer and valium at the time of the attack, told a fellow passenger that he intended to "sideswipe" the van before accelerating towards it at speeds of over 70mph.

The vehicles collided, with the van overturning and landing at the side of the carriageway. Mr Fleeman, a shopfitter with two children, was killed and his passenger Lee Allsup, a 17-year-old apprentice, was severely injured. Lyons is understood to have sped away from the scene.

The court heard how Lyons fled to Spain shortly after the killing in an attempt to escape justice. But he was extradited back to Scotland after being arrested by Spanish police. He is believed to be a member of the notorious Lyons crime family in Glasgow, which is headed by his uncle Eddie.

Yesterday Lyons, who has a number of previous convictions, pleaded guilty to culpable homicide and attempting to defeat the ends of justice. He also admitted injuring Mr Allsup to his permanent impairment and a charge of dangerous driving. Sentencing will be on 1 April.

Mr Fleeman's wife Sandra was "utterly devastated" by her husband's death, and the stress had left her prone to depression, the court heard. Describing via a television monitor the day she had to identify her husband's body as "horrific", she said without the support of police, friends and family she would not be in court, having contemplated suicide.

Mr Allsup used to be "happy go lucky" but had also contemplated suicide after spending seven weeks in hospital, the court heard. He has since felt "numb" and susceptible to serious panic attacks which have left him housebound.

Tony Graham, defending Lyons, said he wanted to "express the remorse" that his client felt. He said: "His conduct on that occasion was utterly irresponsible, utterly stupid." He added that Lyons recognised his actions had led to a destruction of one life and the near-destruction of another.

As part of the police investigation, 200 motorists were questioned by officers, and 11 roadside boards with the Crimestoppers telephone number were placed between Gretna and the end of the M74 at the Fullarton junction.

Speaking after the hearing, Jennifer Harrower, district procurator fiscal for Hamilton, said: "Paul Lyons used his van as a weapon, it may not have been a knife or a gun but nevertheless it had the same lethal consequences culminating in the death of an innocent man.

"Lyons then fled abroad, desperately attempting to avoid the consequences of his actions. Working with our criminal justice partners and utilising all of the powers within the legislation available we were determined to ensure he did not do so."