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Hit-and-run killer was driving stolen Audi when he struck much-loved Fife man

Darren McPhee has admitted causing the death on Stephen Davis in Cowdenbeath last year.

Stephen Davis died after a crash on Cowdenbeath's High Street.
Stephen Davis (pictured) died after being hit by McPhee on Cowdenbeath's High Street. Image: Police Scotland

A killer hit-and-run driver was in a stolen Audi with a cloned registration plate when he struck a pedestrian in Fife last year.

Darren McPhee, 32, was driving dangerously when his vehicle hit Stephen Davis on High Street, Cowdenbeath, on September 14 2023.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard police investigators think McPhee struck Mr Davis at 42mph – and reached speeds up to 66mph in the moments before the collision.

Judge Lord Scott saw CCTV footage of Mr Davis being propelled several feet into the air before landing on the pavement.

He died at the scene, with McPhee having sped away on the wrong side of the road.

Mr Davis, with his partner, was behind the highly-praised Cowdenbeath Market Garden, which grew and provided organic food for the local community.

His partner had died of cancer in July.

Fatal crash

On Thursday, prosecutor Gavin Anderson KC told the court McPhee, who has previous convictions for similar offences, was driving an Audi SQ5, stolen from Edinburgh on July 31 2023 and with cloned registration plates.

He said Mr Davis was crossing High Street shortly after 8.30pm.

“As Mr Davis crossed the road, he initially walked and then began to run, apparently in response to seeing the approaching Audi.

“As he did so, he was struck in the northbound lane by the Audi.

“The Audi collided with Mr Davis towards its front nearside.

“Mr Davis was thrown into the air before coming to rest on the west pavement.

“Upon impact and as Mr Davis was projected upwards, the Audi veered into the southbound lane, initially straddling the centre dividing line of the road.

“The Audi continued travelling north in the southbound lane.”

Police at the scene of the fatal hit and run on High Street in Cowdenbeath.
Police at the scene of the hit-and-run on Cowdenbeath High Street. Image: Councillor Darren Watt/Facebook.

McPhee, of Cowdenbeath but currently a prisoner at HMP Glenochil, pled guilty to causing Mr Davis’s death by driving dangerously and at “excessive speeds”.

He had earlier spent seven minutes in the Beith Inn on High Street before driving away.

The court heard witnesses phoned the emergency services but Mr Davis was pronounced dead at 9.15pm, having suffered a fractured skull and brain haemorrhages.

He also had fractures to the upper ribs, sternum, left arm, left thigh and pelvis.

Audi ‘dismantled’

Detectives arrested McPhee in Aberlour, Moray, on September 16 2023.

Mr Anderson said police discovered the Audi had been disposed of in a breakers yard, meaning it could not be forensically analysed.

“On October 13 2023, police traced the Audi to a licensed vehicle recycling facility in Thornton in Fife.

“By that time, it had been fully dismantled.

“Consequently, collision investigators were unable to carry out a physical and mechanical examination of the car in its post-collision state.”

But they were able to conclude it had functioning brakes and steering.

Court apology

Defence advocate John Scullion KC said McPhee has accepted his guilt and “has asked me to convey his apologies in court.”

He said: “There is nothing I can say which will alleviate the pain and suffering which has been endured by Mr Davis’s family and that they continue to endure.

“Mr McPhee hopes they may find solace in hearing him accepting responsibility for causing Mr Davis’s death.

“It is accepted that a custodial sentence is inevitable.”

High Court in Edinburgh
McPhee appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Lord Scott banned McPhee from driving and told him the maximum sentence available is life imprisonment.

He added: “The fact that you have pleaded guilty will perhaps be the greatest mitigation available to you.”

Sentence was deferred to next month for a background report and McPhee was remanded in custody.

Family grief

At the time of his death, Mr Davis’ family paid tribute to the “loving son, brother uncle and friend”.

A statement released through police read: “We are devastated by the loss of Stephen and the circumstances and timing that led to his death.

“We are still grieving the loss of his long-term partner, who passed away in July, we are still unable to comprehend the nature of his passing.

“Stephen was a loving son, brother, uncle and friend.

“Stephen and his partner also worked together to make Cowdenbeath Market Garden a real community project.

“He will be deeply missed by us all.

“We would like to thank the bystanders who tried to help Stephen at the scene, all the witnesses who came forward with information and also Police Scotland.”

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