24 August 2010

Double fatal crash driver 'thought he was in starship'

Annelise and Duncan Storrar Duncan and Annelise Storrar were returning home from the cinema

A driver who crashed into the back of a car at 60mph, killing the couple inside, thought he was driving the Starship Enterprise, a court has heard.

Matthew Kelliher, 31, was being pursued by police when he crashed in Tilehurst Road, Reading, on 27 January.

Duncan and Annelise Storrar died as their car burst into flames.

Mr Kelliher, who was assessed at a psychiatric hospital on the day of the crash but not admitted, denies causing the deaths by dangerous driving.

Neil Moore, prosecuting, told Reading Crown Court that Mr Storrar, 54, and his wife, 49, had been to the cinema in Reading and were on their way home to Tilehurst.

Shortly before the chase, Mr Kelliher, of Brunswick Street, Reading, had got out of his car to try to command traffic lights to change from red to green when a police car came towards him and officers saw him get back in, the court heard.

'Pay for sins'

Jurors heard he then jumped a red light and was being pursued by the marked car with its lights and sirens sounding along the 30mph Tilehurst Road when it hit the couple's car from behind after a 40-second chase.

"The results were catastrophic," Mr Moore said. "The car was propelled through the air, spun around and came to rest on the other side of the carriageway and it burst into flames."

The scene of the collision in Reading The couple died instantly as the car burst into flames

The barrister said two police officers tried to save the couple but were beaten away by the flames.

Mr Kelliher was arrested and told officers: "I've got to pay for my sins" and then added later: "I should have killed you too but I'm not gonna."

He told a doctor after the crash that he felt his car could go at 6,000mph like the fictional starship from the Star Trek television programmes and films if he could use a code and the blue lights of the chasing police car were "a reinforcement".

Mr Kelliher, who had not been drinking or taking drugs but had a history of mental illness, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Mr Moore said three doctors had decided Mr Kelliher was legally insane, that at the time of the incident he was suffering from an "acute psychotic disorder" and there was no dispute that he caused the death of the couple.

The barrister told the jury that if they agreed he was suffering from such a "disease of mind" that he did not know the nature of his actions, or that what he was doing was wrong, then he should be found not guilty of the charges by reason of insanity.