Footballer killed in crash was more than twice drink-drive limit, inquest hears
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A 23-year-old footballer from Beccles was more than twice the drink-drive limit when he crashed into a tree, an inquest heard.
Aiden Lowe, of Glebe View, died after his white BMW 430d came off the A143 in Gillingham on September 10 last year.
An inquest in Norwich on Wednesday heard how the former Beccles Sir John Leman High School pupil was 'likely' to have been speeding.
Mr Lowe, who worked as a printer, died from a traumatic head injury as a result of the crash.
A toxicology report found that the Bungay Town FC player had 183mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80mg per 100ml of blood.
In a statement read out during the inquest, Mr Lowe's friend Teddy Mattocks said they had gone to three pubs and a wine bar on the day of the accident.
Starting at 2pm, he said they visited The Ingate pub in Beccles, The Commodore in Oulton Broad, the King's Head in Beccles and the Wine Vaults.
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During that time, Mr Mattocks said he saw Mr Lowe drink two pints of Strongbow, two Coors Lights and possibly two other drinks later in the evening.
He said they had both eaten during the day.
The inquest heard how Mr Lowe had driven his friend Daniel Smith to McDonald's in Gillingham at around 10.45pm after leaving the wine bar.
He then dropped off Mr Smith in Beccles at around 11.35pm.
In a statement, Mr Smith said: 'Aiden did not have the appearance of being drunk during the night. He was talking normally and [his speech] was not slurred.'
Lisa Williams said she was driving from Norwich to Lowestoft between 11.30pm and midnight that evening when a white BMW overtook her.
The inquest heard that she estimated the vehicle to have been travelling at around 100mph.
Dominic Harrington, who lives close to the A143, said he was outside his house when he heard a 'fast moving vehicle' going past.
In a statement he said: 'After the clear sound of the vehicle there was a thud and then absolute silence.'
He called 999 after going out to investigate and finding Mr Lowe's car in the undergrowth.
PC Paul McKay, who put together the collision investigation report, said the crash occurred at 11.46pm.
He said: 'I am of the opinion that Mr Lowe's vehicle was likely to have been travelling well in excess of the 60mph speed limit immediately prior to the collision.
'He was over twice the legal drink driving limit at the time.
'I am of the opinion that this is likely to be a significant factor in Mr Lowe being unable to maintain control of his vehicle, particularly when it started to deviate from its intended course.
'The excessive speed of the vehicle would only have exacerbated this further.'
He said Mr Lowe was travelling in the direction of Haddiscoe.
Shortly after a sweeping left-hand bend, he said Mr Lowe's vehicle left the road to the offside 'while rotating in a clockwise direction'.
It continued across the verge before hitting a tree.
PC McKay said there were no mechanical faults with Mr Lowe's BMW which would have contributed to the crash.
In a written statement, Mr Lowe's girlfriend of three weeks, Stephanie Hardy, said she had been messaging Mr Lowe on Whatsapp on the day of the crash.
She said her last two messages, sent at 10.26pm and 11.05pm, were not read by Mr Lowe until 11.42pm.
A collision report, read out during the inquest, was unable to ascertain whether Mr Lowe was driving when he accessed the Whatsapp message.
Miss Hardy said she always felt 'safe' in Mr Lowe's car as he was a 'confident and capable driver'.
Senior coroner Jacqueline Lake concluded the death was due to a road traffic collision.
Despite the accident happening on September 10, 2017, it was recorded that Mr Lowe died on September 11.