Tyne & Wear

Connor Marsden jailed over Melissa Tate hit-and-run death

Connor Marsden Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption Connor Marsden was driving at more than twice the speed limit when he hit the youngster

An unlicensed driver who killed a 10-year-old girl in a hit-and-run has been jailed for seven years and four months.

Connor Marsden failed to stop after striking Melissa Tate in Newcastle on 25 September.

The city's crown court had heard Marsden was estimated to have been travelling at 47mph (75kph) in a 20mph (32 kph) zone.

The 24-year-old admitted causing her death by dangerous driving at a previous hearing.

Marsden was driving a Renault Kangoo van in Hillsview Avenue, Kenton, when he hit the youngster, who lived nearby.

Melissa, known as Missy, died in hospital the following day.

Her mother, Kim Wilson, told the court the family's time in hospital was "catastrophic" and they had to make the "heart-wrenching decision" to donate her organs - a move which helped save the lives of four other children.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Melissa Tate's parents said she was "beautiful, smart, funny, cheeky and laid-back"

In a family statement she read to the court, she described Melissa as "our rock who had a heart of gold".

She added: "I understand Connor Marsden pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, but this offers no comfort as he drove off and left her lying in the middle of the road."

The court was shown footage of Marsden at the Kenton District Social Club prior to the incident where he drank two pints of snakebite and black.

One witness who saw him after he hit Melissa described him as appearing intoxicated and "off his face".

Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption Marsden wept in the back of a police car when he was arrested

Marsden, of Ambridge Way, Kenton, fled to a house in Easington, County Durham, where he was arrested.

The court heard he refused to give a blood sample and police were unable to insist he provide one due to the time that had lapsed since Melissa was struck.

At a hearing in October, Marsden also admitted failing to stop, failing to report an accident and driving without insurance or a licence.

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: : "This has been a heart-breaking case for Melissa's family and friends.

"The investigative team have come to know Melissa's family and what Melissa meant to them. We have genuine admiration for the dignified and honourable way they have conducted themselves in such difficult circumstances.

"The way he was driving that vehicle left Melissa with no chance of survival but rather than face up to his actions he fled like a coward."

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