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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Driver took drugs before fatal Cumbria crash

A driver who killed a west Cumbrian rugby league stalwart in a horrific car crash has accepted that he faces a long prison term.

Lee Thomas Walley, 35, pleaded guilty at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday (WED) to causing the death of James McKenzie – who had manned the turnstiles at Workington Town’s Derwent Park ground for more than 40 years – by dangerous driving.

The court heard that he had “a number of drugs” in his system at the time.

After Walley entered his plea in front of about a dozen of Mr McKenzie’s relatives, some of whom were sobbing, his barrister Greg Hoare told the judge: “He is under no illusions. whatsoever He knows that in due time the court will pass on him a very significant prison sentence.”

Mr McKenzie, a 61-year-old grandfather who lived in Furness Road, Moorclose, Workington, died after a two-car crash on Honister Drive, Workington, three months ago.

He was driving his blue Ford Focus when Walley’s silver VW Golf crashed head-on into it early on the afternoon of March 7.

The road was closed for about four-and-a-half hours while emergency services dealt with the crash. Three ambulances, two fire engines, two fire cars and up to ten police cars attended.

Both drivers had to be cut free by firefighters.


Mr McKenzie was taken to the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven with chest and abdominal injuries but died soon after.

Walley, of Beverley Close, Workington, was badly hurt in the accident and hobbled into court leaning heavily on a stick.

The court heard that after the crash doctors were so concerned about injuries to his right side they initially missed a fracture to his left foot and heel.

Those bones were now thought to have healed wrongly, so he might need further surgery to put it right, Mr Hoare said.

Mr Hoare told the court a test after the crash showed that Walley had “a number of drugs” in his bloodstream, but without a report from an expert toxicologist it was impossible to know how badly they might have affected his driving.

Walley was remanded on bail for background reports and will be sentenced on July 13. In the meantime he was banned from driving under an interim disqualification.


Mr McKenzie, who was known to his friends as Jimmy, Chizza and Snuffbox, was a fan of Workington Town and Wigan rugby league teams.
 

The Derwent Park club held a minute’s silence in honour of Mr McKenzie at its first home match – against Oldham – after his death.

 

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