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Inquest verdicts on brothers killed in high-speed crash
A man driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs killed his soldier brother when he crashed a car into a tree after a police pursuit at speeds of around 100mph, an inquest found.
The hearing at Bradford Coroner’s Court heard yesterday Christopher Blowman, 31, and Sam Blowman, 27, died when the Ford Focus they were travelling in ‘disintegrated’ in the force of the collision on May 29 last year.
The inquest was told the car, which it is believed was being driven by Christopher Blowman, had failed to stop for police when it was spotted travelling at ‘excessive speed’ shortly before the crash at about 11.30pm.
Investigator Robert Crispin said the vehicle would have been travelling at about 70mph when it collided with the tree and between 85mph and 103mph in the moments before.
The incident was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. No disciplinary action was taken against any officers involved.
However, the inquest heard there were ‘discrepancies’ between claims by a police officer driving a response car that he had been travelling at speeds of up to 60mph, while evidence from the vehicle suggested at one point he was travelling at an average speed of 89mph.
PC Edwards, who was driving on patrol on the evening of the tragedy, told Acting Bradford Coroner Professor Paul Marks how he spotted the Ford Focus travelling above the 30mph speed limit on Manchester Road.
The officer, who said he was travelling at 30mph, said he and colleague PC Loney had decided to stop the vehicle by switching on the car’s blue beacons.
He said: “While I put my sirens on it was obvious the vehicle was not going to stop and it accelerated hard towards Wyke.”
PC Edwards told the inquest PC Loney was going to request an ‘initial phase pursuit’, which would mean advanced drivers would be alerted to the incident and could make a ‘tactical move’ to stop the vehicle.
“I believed the vehicle had turned off into Wyke from the position it was in, but we were a considerable distance away from it and weren’t gaining on it, so PC Loney told the force control that vehicle was a ‘loss, loss, loss.’ We had lost sight of it.”
Upkar Bahia, representing the Blowman family, asked PC Edwards if they had been given permission to begin an ‘initial phase pursuit’, but the officer said the vehicle had gone out of sight and authority was not given.
Mr Bahia said: “Is it possible that you, seeing this vehicle drive past you and accelerate hard away from you, engaged in a pursuit of this vehicle feeling the effect of ‘red mist’ at speeds of 89mph?”
The officer replied: “Certainly not.”
The officers did not give their first names to the inquest, and refused to give them when approached by the Telegraph & Argus afterwards.
A post-mortem examination found both brothers had died of multiple injuries and a toxicology report showed they were around twice the legal drink drive limit.
The toxicology report also showed there was evidence Christopher Blowman had recently taken cocaine and cannabis and evidence Sam Blowman had recently taken cocaine, ecstasy and methadrone.
Recording a verdict of accidental death for Christopher Blowman and unlawful killing for Sam Blowman, who both lived in Gracey Lane, Buttershaw, Prof Marks said had Christopher survived the crash, it is likely he would have been prosecuted for causing death by dangerous driving.
Prof Marks said he also found the car had been involved in a ‘pursuit’ before the crash.