The trial of a man charged with the manslaughter of a garda has heard he was driving at speeds of up to 180km/h on the morning his car hit the patrol car being driven by Garda Gary McLoughlin.

Martin McDermott, 25, of Castlegrove, Raphoe, Co Donegal, has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Garda McLoughlin in December 2009.

Mr McDermott has also denied a further charge of endangering the life of Garda Bernard McLoughlin.

However, he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing Garda McLoughlin's death.

Mr McDermott has admitted a number of other charges, including drink driving, driving when disqualified and driving without insurance.

Opening the case at Letterkenny Circuit Court this afternoon, Alex Owens SC said the jury will hear evidence that at 1.16am on 13 December 2009 detectives in an unmarked car at Bridgend in Donegal noticed something unusual at a petrol station.

The accused left the petrol station in a red Opel Astra and travelled towards Letterkenny at speeds up to 180km/h. The garda car followed with its lights flashing.

Mr Owens said Mr McDermott turned his car round and appears to have decided to break for the border. He was living in Derry at the time.

He was driving towards Derry when he hit a marked Garda car being driven by Garda McLoughlin.

Garda McLoughlin, 24, from Fenagh in Leitrim, died the next day in hospital.