Death crash driver was high on cocaine
A Berwick man was speeding at around 100mph moments before he was killed in a collision with a combine harvester, an inquest has heard.
John Paul Currie, a 35-year-old father-of-two, died at the scene of the collision on the A1167 between Scremerston and Tweedmouth.
The hearing at Berwick Magistrates’ Court on Monday also heard that the IT consultant was under the influence of cocaine when the collision happened just after 7.30pm on September 23, 2016.
Tony Brown, senior coroner for north Northumberland, said: “Toxicology examinations show cocaine levels which would have impaired John Paul’s judgment, reaction time and ability to drive competently.”
The inquest heard that minutes before the collision, farm contractor Richard Stott had parked the combine harvester in a lay-by on the A1167. He walked across the road to unlock a farm gate. He returned to his cab and began to make the turn into the field when he was hit by Mr Currie’s northbound Audi S4.
PC Gary Jenkins read statements from several witnesses, including Jane Warcup who was travelling southbound. She described how she came over the brow of the hill and had to slow down to allow the combine to complete its turn into the field. At that point, the Audi struck the front end of the combine.
Mr Stott, an experienced combine operator, told police he had not seen Mr Currie approaching.
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The inquest heard that Mr Stott might have been made aware of an approaching vehicle if he had an attendant with him, as he sometimes did, but on this occasion he did not.
PC David Martin, collision investigator, said there were several faults with the combine and its trailer but, in his view, this was not a contributory factor to the collision.
He also told the hearing that Mr Currie had visited Tesco filling station some 15 minutes before the collision. His next movements were unknown until his car was captured on CCTV going past the Go Outdoors store at between 97mph and 106mph.
The combine harvester had its lights on and flashing warning lights and PC Martin said he would have expected Mr Currie to have seen them on the straight stretch of road.
He said: “Ordinarily, I would expect a vehicle approaching a combine to take some form of action. John Paul Currie was travelling far in excess of the speed limit while under the influence of cocaine which would have had an impact on his ability to comprehend the situation in front of him.”
Mr Brown concluded that Mr Currie died as a result of a road traffic accident.