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Death crash driver had drunk ten pints of beer, inquest told
A drink driver was nearly four times over the limit when he crashed his company car after a Christmas night out, an inquest into his death has heard.
CCTV evidence showed him reversing into a bus shelter in Main Street before accelerating away in the black BMW and colliding with two other cars, the hearing in Bradford was told yesterday.
Minutes later he had lost control near Beckfoot School in Bradford Road, hitting a kerb, a bin, a stone wall, a tree and then a lamppost, which acted like a ramp sending his car back into the middle of the road on its roof.
PC Paul Lightowler, of West Yorkshire Police Major Collision Investigation Unit, told the inquest that witnesses in Main Street had seen the car swerving as it was driven away at speed.
One woman had recognised Mr Howes and tried to stop him driving off after he reversed into the bus shelter but he had got out of the car and hugged her before setting off.
Police officers attending an unrelated incident in Main Street, then saw him collide with the two other cars as he passed, failing to stop.
PC Lightowler said Mr Howes was likely to have been driving at up to 60mph in a 40mph zone before the crash.
An off-duty police officer and a man who had been walking home were first at the scene and found him lifeless in the car, although the driver and passenger compartments were intact.
Mr Howes was later found to have 315 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millliitres of blood. The legal limit is 80 milligrammes.
A post-mortem examination could find no fatal injuries caused by the crash itself and the only cause of death offered by the pathologist was alcohol intoxication.
Assistant Bradford Coroner Dr Dominic Bell said, although he accepted the medical cause of death, he found it difficult to reconcile it with the evidence he heard from PC Lightowler and Mr Howes’ partner Jodie Coonan.
Miss Coonan told the inquest he regularly drank more than that amount when out on a weekend and the last time she had seen him that night he was only “getting there” drunk.
Dr Bell said although he was not ignoring post-mortem findings, other evidence conflicted with it purely being a death contributable to alcohol intoxication.
The inquest heard how Mr Howes, who worked for food company Speedibake, managing multi-million pound accounts, had suffered bouts of depression – not being linked to his death – after having his jaw broken in an unprovoked attack in 2009 and being previously made redundant from Bradford-based Hallmark cards.