Friends drank alcohol before dying in horror crash near Buxton, inquest hears

Two friends died in a horror crash near Buxton after drinking alcohol, an inquest heard.

Monday, 9th May 2016, 8:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 5:55 pm
The scene of the crash. Picture by Jason Chadwick.
The scene of the crash. Picture by Jason Chadwick.

Robert Jenkins, 32, and Craig Brassington, 27, were killed when the Land Rover Discovery they were travelling in left the A515 road and collided with a tree last November.

After their deaths, the men, of Sterndale Moor, were described as 'brilliant lads' who could 'walk into a quiet room and fill it with laughter'.

Jane Townsend, licensee at the Bull i' th' Thorn in Hurdlow, told Chesterfield coroners' court on Monday how Mr Jenkins and Mr Brassington came into the pub at about 9.30pm on Wednesday, November 11.

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Floral tributes at the scene of the crash. Picture by Jason Chadwick.

She said they didn't appear under the influence of alcohol and were served 'three pints apiece' before leaving at about 11.45pm.

Mrs Townsend said she could hear the men talking outside until at least midnight as she cleaned the pub but then she retired into a back room so didn't see the pair getting into a vehicle or leaving the premises.

Police were alerted to the devastating collision near Pomeroy shortly before 1am on Thursday, November 12.

Nobody witnessed the crash itself, the court heard, but motorists Christopher Hickman and Samuel Pilkington saw the Land Rover Discovery on its roof down an embankment.

Floral tributes at the scene of the crash. Picture by Jason Chadwick.

Both men stopped at the scene to see if they could help anybody.

Pathologist Dr Andrew Hitchcock told the court Mr Jenkins and Mr Brassington suffered catastrophic injuries.

Dr Hitchcock did not carry out the toxicology tests but said the results showed the level of alcohol in Mr Jenkins' blood was 230 milligrams per decilitre and the level of alcohol in Mr Brassington's blood was 262 milligrams per decilitre; the legal drink-drive limit is 80.

PC David Piggott, forensic collision investigator with Derbyshire police, concluded that Mr Jenkins was in the passenger side of the vehicle and Mr Brassington was driving. Coroner James Newman said this was ‘in the balance of possibility’.

PC Piggott also stated that the men were not wearing seatbelts.

He said: "Alcohol impairs cognitive behaviour and has detrimental effects on drivers."

Mr Newman ruled Mr Jenkins, a mechanical engineer, and Mr Brassington, a scrap metal dealer, died due to a road traffic collision.

He reminded the court that coroners cannot blame an individual for a death and told the families of the two men: "I wish I could tell you that the conclusion of an inquest waves a magic wand - but it doesn't.

"However, it does bring some closure and answer questions."

After the tragedy, Graham Gregory, who was friends with Mr Jenkins and Mr Brassington for several years, said: "They were, quite simply, brilliant lads.

“They’d walk into a quiet room and fill it with laughter.

“We’ll never forget them."