A BANNED motorist is to stand trial accused of being the driver of a car in a fatal accident involving a pedestrian shortly before last Christmas.

Darren Lee Woodward denies being behind the wheel of an Audi A3 which collided with Matthew Carty on the A1052, at Woodstone Village, between Fencehouses and Bournmoor, near Chester-le-Street, in the early hours of Sunday December 23.

Debris from the vehicle, which did not stop after the accident, but which was said to have been recovered later that morning, was left at the scene of the collision.

Mr Carty, 36, a postman, of Lambton Village, Washington, was taken by ambulance to University Hospital of North Durham, in Durham, but died from his injuries several hours later.

Police subsequently arrested the defendant, who initially required hospital treatment himself, on suspicion of causing death by careless driving.

He was later charged with aggravated vehicle taking involving a fatal accident, between December 21 and 24, 2018, when he was disqualified from driving by an order of Newcastle Crown Court, on September 9, 2016.

Appearing at a Durham Crown Court plea hearing, via video link from the city’s nearby prison, he denied the charge.

He also pleaded not guilty to further counts of driving while disqualified and without insurance.

Asked by Judge Christopher Prince if his client denied being the driver of the Audi, defence counsel John Wilkinson told the court: “He denies he was the driver at the time of the accident, at approximately 2am, and his defence will be alibi in response to that. But, the circumstances of the accident will not be in question.”

Judge Prince said: “That’s straightforward then, we can set a timetable for trial.”

All parties agreed it should take between one day and two to complete, with a suitable date pinpointed for the start on February 12, next year.

Judge Prince remanded the now 40-year-old defendant, of Lambourne Close, Bournmoor, in custody pending the start of the trial.

Mr Carty, also known as ‘Matty’, left a mother, Mary, siblings Sharon and Michael, plus partner Tracy.