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Paddy Doherty’s nephew, 30, was competing in dual carriageway cart race when BMW killed him

Michael ‘Mikey’ Connors, 30, was competing in a horse-drawn cart race when a BMW ploughed into him and killed him

The nephew of Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star Paddy Doherty was competing in a horse-drawn cart race when a BMW ploughed into him and killed him.

Michael ‘Mikey’ Connors, 30, was catapulted into the air when motorist Billy Budd struck him on the A2016 Eastern Way dual carriageway in Thamesmead, London, in July last year. 

Mr Connors, a cart racing champion dubbed ‘King of the Road’, came crashing down on the tarmac and died at the scene from severe head injuries.

His £12,000 prize horse, named Tony Montana, had to be euthanised on the carriageway after the sports car crushed its back and pelvis. 

Concerns were raised when Mr Connors failed to cross the finish line, prompting his family and friends to go looking for him. 

Today at Southwark Crown Court Budd – described by friends as a ‘sensitive man’ – stood silent in the dock wearing a dark blue suit.

The 31-year-old, who has worked at Belmarsh Prison since he was 19, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and destruction of property last month.

He is due to be sentenced this afternoon. 

Billy Budd, 31, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and destruction of property. He is due to be sentenced this afternoon

Billy Budd, 31, pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and destruction of property. He is due to be sentenced this afternoon

Mr Connors was the nephew of Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star Paddy Doherty, who is pictured with a tribute tattoo at his funeral last month

Mr Connors was the nephew of Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star Paddy Doherty, who is pictured with a tribute tattoo at his funeral last month

Mr Connors' family clutch a photo of the cat racer as they pay tribute at his funeral in July in Surrey

Mr Connors’ family clutch a photo of the cat racer as they pay tribute at his funeral in July in Surrey 

Around half a dozen family members from both sides attended the hearing.

Prosecutor Philip Stott said: ‘At around 8:45am just west of the interchange with Harrow Manorway the deceased, Michael Connors, was riding a horse drawn cart westward in Eastern Way in the outmost lane.

‘The cart was of a type known as a ‘sulky’: it was of a light metal construction with two bicycle type wheels and a seat in between the two wheels and two carriage arms that go either side of the horse.

‘The horse pulling the sulky was a trotting pony from a very successful racing pedigree, it was called Tony Montana and was worth over £12,000. It was familiar with travel on roads and comfortable in traffic.

‘The defendant was driving a white BMW motorcar in the same direction. One witness was travelling in the same direction in his own car immediately in front of the defendant’s BMW.

‘He recalls one or two cars in front of him that moved out to overtake the horse and cart before he did the same manoeuvre.

‘He estimates that the defendant’s BMW was about 5-6 car lengths directly behind him.

‘He saw the defendant’s vehicle still in the same lane moving in on the cart and not performing an overtaking manoeuvre.’

A second witness said Budd was travelling 35 to 45mph faster than Mr Connors. 

He said they anticipated that Budd would pull into the right-hand lane to overtake, but was horrified when Budd smashed directly into the back of the cart, killing both Mr Connors and his horse.

Mr Stott added: ‘The cart went up in air as the BMW collided with it. Mr Connors moved over the top of the BMW and suffered a head injury either from he roofline or the road surface as he fell back down.

‘The horse suffered serious injury to its back and pelvis as a result of the direct impact from the BMW into its rear.

Friends and family are pictured following the coffin of Mikey Connors at his funeral last month Epsom Cemetery in Surrey. The baby blue coffin was also adorned with a WBC boxing belt

Friends and family are pictured following the coffin of Mikey Connors at his funeral last month Epsom Cemetery in Surrey. The baby blue coffin was also adorned with a WBC boxing belt

‘The BMW sustained crumpling and denting along its nearside and up to the windscreen consistent with running into the rear of the cart and horse.’

Budd then tried to flee the scene, but the second witness chased his vehicle and forced it into the  central reservation of the carriageway. 

Mr Stott said: ‘The witness shouted at the defendant “do you know what you’ve done, you’ve killed somebody, go back”.

‘The defendant appeared confused and shaken. The second witness told the defendant to park his car and go back, which he did. 

‘Mr Budd did not initially identify himself as the driver of the vehicle to police, instead describing himself as a witness.

‘He was approached again by an officer due to his demeanour and then identified himself as the driver. He was taken from the scene to a police vehicle. 

‘He was then arrested, cautioned, and transported to Plumstead Police Station. He said that he moved across to the left hand lane because he knew that the lanes merged ahead.

‘He stated that as he did so another vehicle in front of him in the left hand lane moved into the right-hand lane, in effect swapping lanes.

‘The defendant suggested that manoeuvre must have obscured the cart from view, with the cart becoming only evident to him immediately before what he stated was an unavoidable collision.

‘He said that he had told police he was a witness at first due to the large number of members of the deceased’s community that had gathered at the scene.’

A statement by Mr Connors’, wife Elizabeth, read by Mr Stott, said: ‘My world has been turned upside down.’

In a letter to the Connors family, Budd wrote: ‘I’m so sorry to the Connors family. I cannot begin to imagine how hard this has been for them. I also feel remorse for the horse as well.

‘My heart breaks for his family and friends and I often wish it had been me who died.’

Defending, Dickon Reid said: ‘He is a sensitive man, a kind-hearted man, not a Jack the lad.’

More than 100 mourners gathered to remember the dad-of-two at his burial place at Epsom Cemetery, near the race course that hosts the Derby last month.

Speaking at that anniversary Paddy, who won Celebrity Big Brother in 2011, said: ‘Mikey was a great man. He was an all rounder. he was a worker, he was a horseman and a gentleman as well.

‘Even the horse game has gone down hill since he’s gone because of the tragedy – every traveller in the world it has affected.

‘There was a horse competition in Dublin in January just for him, because he was popular, he was a legend.

‘He was more than one in a billion, he was one in a trillion.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk