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Jury in Christie McHugh case retire to consider verdict
The jury in the trial of a mental health nurse accused of killing a mother-of-two after an argument in a pub car park has retired to consider its verdict.
Christie McHugh, 33, was flung from Ophelia Oka-Koi’s car at a zebra crossing near the Lord Kitchener pub in East Barnet Road on March 4 last year.
An argument ensued after Mrs McHugh's husband, John, told Ms Oka-Koi she should not have parked in the pub car park because it was meant for customers only.
The pair then began to kick and punch Ms Oka-Koi's car before Mrs McHugh got onto the bonnet and began bouncing on it.
Ms Oka-Koi, of Galdana Avenue, High Barnet, previously told Harrow Crown Court she was controlling her car's clutch biting point while preparing to leave, but as she turned round to see a “huge image”, which was later described as Mrs McHugh, in front of her, she “bolted” out of the car park.
Summing up the prosecution's case today, Alison Hunter QC said although the couple had not acted appropriately, Ms Oka-Koi was "goading" them by blocking the exit to the car park.
She said: "They were drunk in charge of their car and children, hurling abuse at a nuisance, kicking and punching that nuisance's car. There's nothing redeeming about their conduct on that evening."
But Ms Hunter went on to say that Ms Oka-Koi was sober and as a mental health nurse, should have shown "more experience".
She claimed the 51-year-old was not "frightened" as she said in her evidence, but was "angered".
She said: "She lost the plot and decided to teach Christie a lesson."
But defending Ms Oka-Koi, Daniel O’Malley, repeated her evidence stating she had veered out of the car park carrying Mrs McHugh on the bonnet as a "reaction to fright" after seeing a large object in front of her.
He said: "The dependent did not retaliate, she did not get out of the car, she phoned the police.
"She did exactly as she should have done."
Concluding he told jurors: "During life bad things happen, but not every bad thing that happens needs someone to take blame for it."
Judge Newbery summed up all the evidence in the case before the jury retired to consider its verdict.