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'Boy racers' McManus and Kirton face jail over death of Down man Patrick Wilkinson

By John Cassidy

Published 18/11/2016

Daryl Kirton (front) and Che McManus at an earlier court appearance
Daryl Kirton (front) and Che McManus at an earlier court appearance

Two "boy racers" have been warned they face jail after pleading guilty to causing the death of a pensioner who was struck by one of the cars they were driving.

Che McManus (21), of Carriff Court, Downpatrick, and co-accused Daryl Kirton (23), of Drumnaconagher Road, Crossgar, were due to go on trial at Downpatrick Crown Court accused of causing the death of Patrick Wilkinson by dangerous driving.

Defence counsels Arthur Harvey QC and Eugene Grant QC both applied to have their clients rearraigned on the charges.

When the charge of causing the pensioner's death by dangerous driving was put to McManus, he replied: "Guilty.''

Kirton replied to the charge: "Not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, but guilty to causing death by careless driving.''

He further pleaded guilty to causing the death of Mr Wilkinson while driving with no insurance.

Prosecution counsel David McDowell QC said the guilty pleas were acceptable to the Crown.

He added that a second charge McManus faced of causing the death of Mr Wilkinson by careless driving was now "struck out''.

The 72-year-old victim, who was originally from Ballinderry but had moved to Co Down to spend time with his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, was struck outside his family's farm on the Killard Road, outside Ballyhornan, in June 2014

The pensioner had been standing next to his son-in-law Pat Magee when he was struck in what was claimed at the time to have been a race between two cars.

Mr Magee said after the fatal incident: "He was flung 50-odd feet down the road. What killed Paddy saved me, that's just the way it goes.

"Nobody should have to go through that. It was not a pretty sight to see your father-in-law trapped under a car."

Judge Piers Grant ordered pre-sentence reports ahead of sentencing next month.

Releasing the two defendants on continuing bail, Judge Grant warned McManus and Kirton: "It is almost inevitable that a custodial sentence will be imposed in this case.

"Because I am releasing you on bail it should not be misinterpreted that you will receive anything other than a custodial sentence."

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