Belfast Telegraph

Crash that killed Northern Ireland granddad caused by cars racing, jury told

By George Jackson

A 69-year-old grandfather was killed when one of two cars racing along a road on the outskirts of Londonderry four years ago lost control and crashed into his oncoming car, a jury has heard.

David John Ritchie died at the scene on the Glenshane Road and his 17-year-old granddaughter, who had been his front seat passenger, was also injured.

On trial is Stephen Magee, from Ivy Mead in the Altnagelvin area of Derry.

He denies causing Mr Ritchie's death by dangerous driving on April 17, 2013.

His co-defendant in the case, Thomas Hyndman, from Knockbrack Road in Ardmore, was also to have gone on trial.

But just before the trial started he was re-arraigned on six charges relating to the fatal crash, which he had originally denied. He pleaded guilty to causing Mr Ritchie's death by dangerous driving, driving without insurance and while disqualified, failing to remain at the scene of the accident and failing to report the accident.

Hyndman also pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily injury to Magee by dangerous driving.

The court was told that Magee sustained brain injuries in the fatal crash for which he is still being treated.

A prosecution barrister told the jury that both Magee and Hyndman drove Vauxhall Astra cars at speed along the Glenshane Road, at times overtaking other vehicles.

The prosecutor said they raced each other from a garage in the village of Drumahoe to the scene of the accident three miles away.

As they raced each other, the car driven by Magee lost control and crashed into a roadside barrier.

It rebounded off the barrier and veered into the path of the oncoming car being driven by Mr Ritchie.

The car driven by Magee spun in a clockwise direction, smashed into Mr Ritchie's car and then crashed down a nearby embankment.

"The prosecution case is the two Astra cars had been engaged in racing at speed along a stretch of the Glenshane Road about three miles from Drumahoe," the prosecutor said.

"The collision occurred close to Burntollet Bridge when the car being driven by Mr Ritchie on his correct side of the road was struck by the car driven by the defendant Magee.

"The two Astras were at times close to each other and only a few feet separated them.

"The defendant Hyndman during his police interview accepted he was driving over the speed limit and overtook the car being driven by his friend, the defendant Magee, by crossing over the central white lines. He looked in his rear view mirror and saw that the car being driven by his friend had lost control, struck a crash barrier and collided with Mr Ritchie's car."

The barrister said that by their actions both men had caused the death of Mr Ritchie.

Hyndman was released on continuing bail after his guilty pleas until sentencing at a later date. In the meantime, Magee's trial is expected to last up to a week.

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