Boy racers facing jail over death of pensioner in Co Down

Self confessed killer drivers Che McManus and Daryl Kirton leaving Downpatrick Crown Court on an earlier occasion.

McManus, who is at the back, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving while Kirton, at the front, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.
Self confessed killer drivers Che McManus and Daryl Kirton leaving Downpatrick Crown Court on an earlier occasion. McManus, who is at the back, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving while Kirton, at the front, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Two “boy racers” are facing jail after pleading guilty to causing the death of a pensioner who was struck by a car they were driving over two years ago in Co Down.

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

Downpatrick Courthouse

Downpatrick Courthouse

Defence counsels Arthur Harvey QC and Eugene Grant QC both applied to the court to have their clients re-arraigned on the charges they faced.

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 whilst driving with no insurance.

Prosecution counsel David McDowell QC said the guilty pleas were accepted by 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 just 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 to be prepared 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 should not be misinterpreted that you will receive anything other than a custodial sentence.

“The custodial sentence to be imposed will be determined by what I hear on December 21.”