Family claims death driver was 'racing' at time of crash
A newly qualified driver was “racing” another car when he knocked down and killed a County Down pensioner, the victim’s family believe.
The dead man’s son-in-law, Pat Magee, said he believes two cars were racing each other along a narrow country road.
One of them went out of control and killed his 72-year-old father-in-law, Paddy Wilkinson, in 2014.
Two men admitted causing Mr Wilkinson’s death near Ballyhornan.
“We had just finished bringing in the cows for evening milking. Two cars came around the corner at speed from the Ballyhornan direction,” said Mr Magee.
“The two cars were side by side. The two boys were racing. There is no doubt in my mid about that.”
One of the cars braked and hit Mr Wilkinson, killing him close to the entrance to his own home.
Mr Magee said: “Paddy was a gentleman, and a good father-in-law. He treated me like a son.”
Earlier this month, two men who admitted causing Mr Wilkinson’s death by dangerous and careless driving were sentenced at Downpatrick Crown Court.
Che McManus, 21, of Carriff Court, near the village of Kilclief, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.
He will spend nine months in jail.
McManus was a restricted driver having only passed his test three months earlier in March 2014.
Daryl Kirton, 23, formerly of Crossgar, County 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.
Both men were also disqualified for a period of seven years.
The victim’s family said the sentence handed down to the driver who killed Mr Wilkinson was too lenient.
Mr Magee said: “It’s nowhere near enough. The maximum they can give is five to seven years for this kind of offence. If he admitted that he did something wrong, it should have been at the upper end of the scale.
“If you kill someone with a car it should be manslaughter. It’s a dangerous weapon, just the same as a gun or a knife.”
During sentencing on 12 January, the court heard that the deceased’s daughter, Pauline Magee, saw her father after he had been knocked down.
She was screaming “call 999, call 999”.
During his sentencing remarks, the judge condemned McManus for gesticulating at Mrs Magee at the crash scene, stating it showed “little remorse” for his actions.
“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,” the judge said.
“You do not behave in that way even if you are involved in a minor collision. This was highly reprehensible and disgusting behaviour on your part.”
Source: BBC News – Northern Ireland