Jailed death crash drivers told they must live with burden for rest of lives

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Two Co Down men were jailed yesterday for causing the death of a pensioner over two years ago after he was struck by a car on a country road.

Che McManus (21), of Carriff Court, Downpatrick, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to causing the death of Patrick Wilkinson by dangerous driving in June 2014.

Daryl Kirton (23), formerly of Crossgar, Co Down, but now with an address at Fell Street in Liverpool, was jailed for six months after he pleaded to causing Mr Wilkinson’s death by careless driving.

He further admitted causing the death of Mr Wilkinson whilst driving with no insurance. Both men were disqualified for a period of seven years.

Passing sentence at Downpatrick Crown Court, Judge Piers Grant told the defendants that photographs of the accident on the Killard Road in Ballyhornan, Co Down showed a “scene of devastation”.

He added: “You two alone, by your driving on that day, caused the death of Mr Wilkinson.

“It is only right that I acknowledge the great loss suffered by the Wilkinson family. He was clearly a good man, a much loved and respected individual and he has now been taken away by your irresponsible behaviour. You will have to carry that burden for the rest of your lives.

“You will appreciate that your actions have resulted in the death of an entirely decent man who moved with his wife to be with his daughter and son-in-law during a difficult time in their lives and you will carry that for a considerable period of time.

“His family will have to live with the dreadful circumstances of that day for a long time.

“I commend the Wilkinson family for the Christian charity they have expressed.”

The court previously heard that Mr Wilkinson was helping to herd cattle into his son-in-law Patrick Magee’s small farm when he was fatally injured by McManus’s blue Vauxhall Corsa car on June 25, 2014.

He was standing with another man, Martin Byrne. Mr Byrne saw the blue Vauxhall Corsa car come round the corner and described how it lost control and started to spin around and ended up facing the wrong way. Mr Wilkinson was trapped underneath the vehicle and died at the scene.

Mr Wilkinson’s daughter Pauline Magee, shouted at McManus: ‘Look what you have done you bastard. You have killed my father’.

A prosecutor said McManus “gesticulated to her and gave her the middle finger”.

During his sentencing remarks, Judge Grant condemned McManus for gesticulating at Mrs Magee.

“I take the view that anyone who behaves the way that you did by gesturing obscenely shows little remorse whatsoever and shows a high culpability.

“This was highly reprehensible and disgusting behaviour on your part.”

The judge said that during interviews, Kirton tried to “disassociate himself” from the accident, adding: “It is quite clear Mr Kirton you declined to assist the police with their investigations and you wanted little to do with this incident.”

Judge Grant said that he was taking into account the expressions of remorse advanced their behalf by their defence counsels.

He said both had clear records, came from “good stable backgrounds’’ and he accepted both had expressed remorse for their actions.

Judge Grant said in the case of McManus his starting point for sentence was two years but reduced that to 18 months as a result of his guilty plea.

He said McManus would spend nine months in custody and a further nine months on licence following his release.

The judge told Kirton that his starting point was nine months in custody and accepted that a period in custody would affect his training to be a mental health nurse.

As Kirton had a “lower culpability’’ he would reduce his sentence to six months in custody.