Melissa Tate: Man admits schoolgirl's hit-and-run death

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Connor MarsdenImage source, Northumbria Police
Image caption,
Connor Marsden is due to be sentenced in December

An unlicensed driver has admitted killing a "beautiful" 10-year-old girl in a hit-and-run in Newcastle.

Melissa Tate suffered fatal injuries after being hit by a car on the evening of 25 September.

Connor Marsden, 24, admitted causing her death by dangerous driving and a number of other offences during a hearing at Newcastle Crown Court.

Marsden, of Ambridge Way, Newcastle, was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing on 12 December.

The court heard Marsden was estimated to have been travelling at 47mph in a 20mph zone when he struck Melissa on Hillsview Avenue.

In a statement after her death in hospital the following day, Melissa's parents, Michael Tate and Kimberley Wilson, said the schoolgirl had saved the lives of four sick children after the family decided to donate her organs.

'Substantial custodial sentence'

Appearing via video link from Durham Prison, Marsden also admitted failure to stop after an accident, causing death by driving while uninsured, causing death by driving whilst without a licence, driving without insurance, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and failure to report to police after an accident.

Judge Robert Adams said: "You must understand that these are serious matters you have admitted, and it's inevitable there will be a substantial custodial sentence."

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Melissa Tate died in hospital a day after being hit by Marsden

"Melissa was a beautiful, smart, funny, cheeky and laid-back girl who had a heart of gold and not a bad bone in her body," her father said following the crash.

"She could brighten up anyone's day and all she ever wanted to do was help people.

"Even after passing she still went on to help others by donating her organs."

Lead investigator, Sgt Ray Lowery, of Northumbria Police, said: "This has been a heart-breaking case that has affected an entire community and left Melissa's family devastated.

"She was a bright, intelligent and kind-hearted little girl who was dedicated to helping other people and that is the legacy she has left behind.

"The lives of Melissa's family will never be the same, but I sincerely hope Connor Marsden's conviction will bring them some comfort at what continues to be a very difficult time."

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