Man denies causing death of young mum Tara Mackie by dangerous driving
7:40am Thursday 20th December 2012 in News
A DRIVER whose car hit a Barry care worker as she walked home through Dinas Powys after a nightshift, told a witness at the scene that he had had a premonition he was going to prison, Cardiff Crown Court heard this week.
Ashleigh Stephen Ryan denies causing the death of Tara Mackie by dangerous or careless driving, after his Ford Fiesta collided with the 25-year-old on Cardiff Road, Dinas Powys, on the morning of Sunday, October 16 last year.
The care worker and mum-of-one had been walking home towards Barry when she was struck from behind by the Fiesta, driven by Ryan, now aged 26.
The court heard that it was around 9.20am on a "fine day" - the day of the 2011 Cardiff Half Marathon.
Prosecutor Ieuan Bennett told the court the car, while being driven too fast, had veered out of control, hitting a wall parapet and resulting in a collision with Miss Mackie and a silver Nissan.
The driver, he said, was heard to tell a witness: “I’ve killed her. My back wheels locked, I saw a brick wall coming towards me and swerved then I hit the girl.
“I am the most unlucky person ever. I went to see a psychic last year who told me I would be wearing a uniform. It’s prison uniform. I will be going to prison for this.”
The court heard that passing motorists stopped and tried to help Miss Mackie, who was still wearing her carer’s uniform. Emergency services treated her alongside the road and she was airlifted to Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales, but died from her injuries.
“She had been struck from behind,” Mr Bennett said.
Ryan, of Kingsland Crescent, Barry and Nantgarw Road, Caerphilly, later told police in interview that he had tried to avoid an oncoming car which was overtaking a cyclist. Mr Bennett alleged Ryan failed to mention the cyclist or the other car when being asked what happened at the scene or in the drive to Cardiff Bay police station following his arrest.
The court heard that cyclist Phillip Richardson contacted police following the accident. He told them a car had safely overtaken him before he had seen the Fiesta.
“What the defendant did at his interview, was think back and deliberately misuse the history of events to blame other road users for causing the fatal crash,” Mr Bennett said, adding that although Ryan had been driving below the 60mph speed limit, he had admitted doing around 50mph.
That speed, said Mr Bennett, had been “inappropriate” for the section of road as it approached a bend, following a long, straight stretch.
Ryan had been driving to work from his partner’s home nearby, and a breath test taken at the scene proved negative.
Mr Bennett added: “He knew this route well and must have driven it on many occasions, and we say he was simply going too fast.
“There is a warning of a right hand bend and the word ‘slow’ is written in two places on the road surface.
“He entered the corner at speed and his car collided with part of a brick parapet of a bridge.
“He drove at 50mph into a brick wall and having struck it, veered out of control onto the grass verge where Tara Mackie was walking.”
The court heard that Ryan, a community care worker, had been on his way to take an autistic client to a football tournament in Newport after leaving Dinas Powys, and that he had apologised to Miss Mackie's father at the scene.
In his interview with police, read out in court, Ryan said: "I saw her father and all I could say to him was '‘I’m sorry' and 'I lost control of the car'.
“I went into a panic, struggling to breathe. I was thinking about my friend Tara.”
He added: “I should have just hit the wall, then it would have been me in the accident and no-one else.”
Cyclist Mr Richardson told the jury he had seen Tara talking on her phone and said that a lack of pavement made the road dangerous.
"It's quite hairy," he said.
He added that a car had passed him and he heard a large bang which he had first thought was due to someone messing about in a field - until he saw the police appeal for witnesses the following day.
Witnesses Colin Hughes and Suzanne Crockett said they had seen a car come around the bend “on the wrong side of the road”, as they were making their way to Dinas Powys from Barry, before it hit Tara and then their vehicle.
Ryan had told officers a car overtaking a distance racing style bicycle had caused him to take avoiding action and he found himself heading for the stone wall of an old bridge.
He said:”My back end went and I was trying to think ‘which way is it that you are supposed to turn the wheel?’
“I hit the wall, came out towards the truck (Mr Hughes’ 4x4 vehicle), swerved back because I didn’t want to hit it and before I knew it I had hit her.”
Road safety experts agreed Ryan was travelling within the recognised limit, but disagreed on whether he potentially could have been driving on the wrong side of the road.
Giving evidence late yesterday afternoon (Wednesday), Ryan denied speeding, denied making things up and explained his mind had been in turmoil at the scene and this was why he had not mentioned a cyclist or the other, untraced, car at the time.
"In that situation my only priority was the wellbeing of that young lady and nothing else, he said.