Hit-and-run driver who killed Chadwell Heath father in Manor Park still at large five years on

Hit-and-run victim Christopher Ritchie. Picture: Submitted

Hit-and-run victim Christopher Ritchie. Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

A hit-and-run killer who crashed a stolen car into a father-of-three at nearly twice the speed limit remains at large five years on, an inquest heard.

Walthamstow Coroner’s Court heard how Christopher Ritchie, of Heath Road, Chadwell Heath, had only half a second to react to the speeding hatchback when it mounted the pavement behind him in Forest Drive, close to Manor Park station.

The driver hit the 52-year-old from behind after accelerating to an estimated 54mph in a 30mph zone, oversteering at a bend in the road.

Mr Ritchie was propelled forward, his head striking a coping stone on a nearby wall.

Police and paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, with a post-mortem exam recording the cause of death as a head injury.

Witnesses described a man wearing dark clothing abandon the car and calmly leave the scene through Wanstead Flats.

Relatives of Mr Ritchie, a gardening supervisor who had been walking to work when struck the morning of 20 November 2013, faced a setback in their long campaign for justice when the inquest into his death was adjourned today pending a long-running police investigation.

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The inquest, led by assistant coroner Nadia Persaud, heard how the vehicle, a blue Ford Focus, was reported stolen earlier that morning, moments after its owner left it outside with the engine running.

Giving evidence, Pc Alex Hewitt, a serious collision investigator for the Met, said there was “no evidence of breaking having occurred” when the driver applied “harsh steering”.

Tests to the car found no mechanic fault that may have contributed to the crash on the well-signposted road, he added.

Officers identified a suspect using DNA evidence found inside the vehicle, eyewitness accounts and CCTV footage, said fellow investigator Det Con Wendy Hunter, yet enquiries continue.

The suspect, whose name is known to the Post, denies all allegations.

Three witness statements read out during the day’s proceedings agreed no passenger had been seen leaving the vehicle, though accounts differ on the driver’s appearance.

Mr Ritchie’s family declined to comment.

The inquest will resume at a later date.