Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Van driver admits hit-run killing

Karina Menzies was run down and killed outside Ely Fire Station in Cardiff

A van driver has admitted running down and killing a mother of three in a hit-and-run frenzy in which more than a dozen other people were injured.

Matthew Tvrdon, 32, mowed down parents and young children during a spree in Cardiff last October in which Karina Menzies was knocked down and killed.

He pleaded not guilty to her murder but admitted her manslaughter with diminished responsibility. Tvrdon appeared via videolink at Cardiff Crown Court from Ashworth high security psychiatric hospital in Maghull, Merseyside.

He also pleaded guilty to seven separate charges of attempted murder all linked to the devastating hit-and-run spree on October 19. Tvrdon appeared relaxed and calm in the video link to court, dressed in a black top and trousers and wearing glasses.

He went on to plead guilty to two counts of causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent and two of attempting to cause GBH with intent. He also admitted four counts of actual bodily harm with intent and a single count of dangerous driving. He was originally charged with one count of murder, 13 counts of attempted murder, four counts of actual bodily harm and one of dangerous driving.

Tvrdon ran amok behind the wheel of his white Iveco van, careering through the Cardiff areas of Ely and Leckwith at speed. Ms Menzies, 31, was out with two of her three children when she was run down and killed outside Ely fire station. A total of 13 other innocent people were injured in the chaotic scenes surrounding the apparently motiveless attack.

The guilty pleas follow a series of behind-the-scenes conferences between the prosecution and defence lawyers.

Ian Murphy QC, prosecuting, said he accepted Tvrdon was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the incidents. He added that he would like to consult the victims to gauge what they thought of the guilty pleas. "There are so many complexities to this case. It is important that those victims who want to be consulted are consulted," he said.

The court heard that a date of June 5 was originally earmarked for the case to go to trial. Tvrdon pleaded not guilty to a number of charges including attempted murder and causing GBH with intent, which are alternatives to some of the offences he admitted.

Judge Mr Justice Wyn Williams adjourned proceedings to June 5 pending the outcome of consultations with the victims. Mr Murphy said he was still ready to go to trial on that day if the victims and the prosecution were unhappy with the guilty pleas. As a result June 5 was retained as a potential trial date but could also be used to sentence Tvrdon if necessary. In the event of a trial any future jury would be told of all the guilty pleas given on Friday.

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