Race between two young drivers cost life of Bradford grandmother, jury told

Mary Byrne

The crash scene in Mandale Road, Horton Bank Top, Bradford

The crash scene in Mandale Road, Horton Bank Top, Bradford

Mary Byrne's funeral

Mary Byrne's funeral

Mary Byrne's funeral

First published in News
Last updated

A grandmother died in an horrific accident caused by two young drivers racing at high speed, a jury heard.

Mary Byrne, 51, was killed outside her home when she was thrown through the window of a minicab, and then was either struck or run over by the vehicle as it was spun round by the impact of the crash.

The cab had been turning right into Mrs Byrne's drive when it was hit from behind by a speeding BMW which had been racing with a Ford Focus, it was alleged yesterday.

Prosecutor Tim Capstick told Bradford Crown Court yesterday that the driver of the Focus, Thomas Healey, had momentarily stopped after the accident but then turned his vehicle round and fled the scene.

Healey, 21, of Brow Lane, Clayton, Bradford, has pleaded not guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

Mr Capstick told the jury that the driver of the BMW, Joseph Robinson, had pleaded guilty to the charge.

The prosecutor said Mrs Byrne had been picked up by private hire driver Basharat Hussain shortly before 5pm on Saturday, April 20, last year and had driven her to her home in Mandale Road, Horton Bank Top.

He indicated right but as he turned his car, the BMW appeared over the brow of the road, travelling at a fast speed. It was unable to brake in time and struck the back of the taxi.

Mr Capstick said: "Mrs Byrne was in the rear of the taxi. She was thrown out of one of the windows, which was open. Having been thrown from the taxi, such was the force of the taxi being struck that it continued to rotate and may well have run over or struck Mrs Byrne."

The taxi came to rest against a wall. Mrs Byrne died later the same afternoon.

Mr Capstick said witnesses would describe the BMW and Focus driving fast and in close proximity, and clearly racing, in Mandale Road before the accident. There was a screeching noise, followed by an almighty bang.

After the collision, the BMW continued for a short distance before hitting a telegraph pole. The Focus was able to slow down and avoid striking the vehicles.

Mr Capstick added: "What the defendant did was to see what had occurred in front of his eyes, and having witnessed this road traffic collision this defendant was to simply turn his vehicle round and drive away from the scene."

The prosecutor said witnesses would give evidence, supporting the case that the two cars were racing, about the way they had been driven in the 15 to 20 minutes before the accident.

He said the events began at the Tesco car park in Halifax Road. A car was heard revving loudly, and the Focus was seen exiting the car park into Halifax Road. One or more of the occupants were gesturing towards the BMW. The two vehicles were seen travelling along Halifax Road at speeds between 70 and 80mph. They turned into Buttershaw Lane, where a resident saw the BMW, followed by another vehicle, travelling at an estimated 60-70mph.

The cars were seen travelling on the wrong side of the road in St Helena's Road and turned into Beacon Road from a roundabout where the BMW nearly lost control. The Focus was so close behind it was almost touching its rear bumper , and another driver had to brake to avoid a collision.

Mr Capstick said Healey attended Trafalgar House police station later that evening. He told police the BMW had overtaken him, "driving like an idiot," and he tried to catch up to get his registration plate details and report him for dangerous driving. When he witnessed the accident he panicked and drove off.

But Mr Capstick said witnesses would say the Focus had been in front of the BMW some of the time.

He said motorist Donna Wright was so concerned about Healey's driving 90 minutes before the accident, after he cut in front of her and then braked sharply, she took a photo of his vehicle on her iPhone and reported the defendant's driving to police.

Mr Capstick said that although Healey was not involved in the collision, it was enough to prove he was driving dangerously.

He told the jury: "If you are sure that the two vehicles were racing each other, that is enough."

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