Man who died after car crashed into wall was driving 'erratically', inquest hears

Floral tributes have been left at the scene of a crash on the A148 at Hillington, which killed a man in his 20s

A floral tribute left at the scene of the crash, on the A148 at Hillington, where James Pearse, 23, died on January 15 this year. - Credit: Archant

A 23-year-old man who died after his car crashed into a wall had been drinking alcohol and was driving "erratically" while not wearing a seatbelt, an inquest has heard.

James Pearse, from Stonefield Road in Baconsthorpe, near Holt, died after he lost control of an Audi on the A148 at Hillington at 2.20am on January 15 this year.

The collision ripped off the driver's door before Mr Pearse was thrown out of the car, suffering fatal head injuries.

Hillington RTC

Emergency services at the scene of the crash on the A148 at Hillington on January 15, 2021. - Credit: Chris Bishop

The inquest into his death, which took place at Norfolk Coroners Court on Wednesday (November 10), heard statements from the three passengers in the car.

Jack Richardson said they were drinking rum and Mr Pearse was driving "erratically" down country roads.

"I wouldn't take a motorbike down those roads," Mr Richardson said.

The inquest heard they drove from Sheringham to Cromer and then to King's Lynn, where there was an argument and a fight before they drove away from the town.

Mr Pearse then drove the wrong way around a roundabout and was driving at speed down the middle of the A148 towards Fakenham before he swerved to avoid a lorry, the inquest heard.

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"I think he knew we'd had it, because I saw him leaning into the steer," said Mr Richardson.

The passenger then grabbed the woman sitting in the front passenger seat as she was not wearing a seatbelt, to keep her safe, before he saw the driver door come off and Mr Pearse thrown out of the car.

Floral tributes have been left at the scene of a crash on the A148 at Hillington, which killed a man in his 20s

A floral tribute left at the scene of the crash, on the A148 at Hillington, where James Pearse, 23, died on January 15 this year. - Credit: Archant

A forensic report of the scene, carried out by the police, confirmed that Mr Pearse was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the collision, while a toxicology report showed he had drank two and a half times the legal limit of alcohol.

A statement from Mr Pearse's mother, Sarah Jane Pearse, said that his death was a "shock" as the family did not know he had a driving licence or a car.

"He was cheeky. He would help anyone and would take the blame for everything. He was a lovely lad. Every time he finished a phonecall he would say, 'I love you'," the inquest heard.

Simon Milburn, assistant coroner, concluded that Mr Pearse died as a result of a road traffic collision.

He then expressed his condolences to the deceased man's family and friends.

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