Norwich coroner’s Christmas drink drive warning at inquest into road death

A Norwich coroner told drink drivers to stay off our roads this Christmas at the inquest of a father-of-three who died while almost twice over the alcohol limit.

Steven Cox, who was described as a loving father, husband and son, lost control of his van on the B1108 Watton Road on July 29.

At the inquest yesterday Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said: 'It is a blessing no-one else suffered as a result of this tragedy.

'Any amount of alcohol can and will impair a person's ability to drive. The only right option is a zero option.'

He said an irresponsible minority of drivers persisted in drink driving and he saw the consequences and anguish of it with 'depressing regularity'.

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Mr Cox, 33, from Barford, was on his way to pick up a friend at 6pm when he lost control of his Volkswagen LT35 by Bawburgh.

The engineer, who had recently set up a successful landscape gardening business, hit a verge on a right hand bend and swerved into the opposite lane.

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Doris Assiotes who was taking her 10-year-old granddaughter back to Hingham after a day out in Great Yarmouth recalled the moment Mr Cox swerved to avoid hitting her car.

'It (the van) was out of control,' she said. 'It was wobbling from side-to-side. I pulled over to the side of the road and I hoped for the best. He did a quick swerve to avoid hitting my car.'

Mr Cox, who was not wearing a seat belt, steered hard to avoid Mrs Assiotes' Kia but lost control of his van.

It crashed through a hedge and rolled into a field.

Sergeant Peter Howlett was the first officer on the scene.

'I saw a big hole in the hedge and a large amount of disturbed earth,' he said. 'I could hear a horn. I saw a large yellow van laying on its driver's side.'

PC Kant who investigated the crash said there were no faults with Mr Cox's van and he estimated he was driving well within the speed limit at 46mph.

He told the inquest Mr Cox had temporarily lost control.

He said: 'It is likely the amount of alcohol he consumed affected his judgement and his ability to control the vehicle.'

Mr Cox was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge where he died that evening from his head injuries.

He leaves behind his three children Leon, Olivia, and Amber and wife Sarah.

Paying tribute to her husband in September Sarah Cox, 28, said: 'He was just cheeky and full of life. He was a comedian and a prankster and would wind me up something rotten.'

Mr Armstrong added: 'Everything was going well for him and his family and I know his loss will be felt keenly.'

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