Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Thief admits knocking down and killing chef in stolen car

Lionel Simenya and Declan Mayes
Image caption Lionel Simenya was hit by Declan Mayes shortly after the 21-year-old stole a Peugeot 207

A 21-year-old man has pleaded guilty to knocking down and killing a chef in a stolen car in Edinburgh.

Declan Mayes smashed into Lionel Simenya shortly after stealing the Peugeot 207 on Ford's Road in the Saughton area of the city.

Mr Simenya died from a traumatic brain injury and also had fractures to his lower left leg.

Mayes' DNA was matched to a drop of blood he left behind in the car and on the car keys.

The High Court in Glasgow heard that Mayes lost control of the car at about 03:00 on 7 March.

He crashed into bushes and a fence then hit 35-year-old Mr Simenya before smashing into a wall and leaving the scene.

Kitchen knife

Mayes pleaded guilty to causing the death of Mr Simenya by dangerous driving. He also admitted stealing the car and driving while uninsured.

But his not guilty plea to attempting to defeat the ends of justice by failing to stop and get emergency help for his victim was accepted by the prosecution.

The court heard that Mr Simenya was born in Burundi and educated in Belgium before coming to the UK.

At the time, he was working as a chef with a pharmaceutical company and living in his van.

His body was found 60 metres away from the van. A large kitchen knife with his DNA on it was on the ground five metres away from him.

Mayes handed himself in to St Leonard's police station in Edinburgh nine days after the crash.

Det Insp Stuart Alexander welcomed the conviction and said that by leaving the scene of the crash, Mayes had shown a complete disregard for Lionel's life.

He added: "Lionel Simenya had moved to the UK a number of years ago from his native Burundi and was working in Edinburgh as a chef when his life was so tragically cut short.

"This was a complex inquiry as we worked to ascertain what happened that night and we hope that Lionel's family and friends now have some of the answers to how their loved one died and our thoughts remain with them at this time."

Judge Lady Scott deferred sentence until next month and Mayes was remanded in custody.

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