TWO young men who died when their speeding car flipped and hit a tree may not have known they were being chased by police, an inquest jury has decided.
Jack Francis Christian, aged 22, and 23-year-old Lee James Perris both suffered brain haemorrhages caused by fracturing of their skulls after their silver Volkswagen Polo crashed in Bury Road, Radcliffe, at about 3.30am on December 2, 2012.
At an inquest into their deaths today a jury unanimously found Mr Christian, of Greenside Chase, Bury, had died as a result of a road traffic collision and the death of Mr Perris, of Eton Hill Road, Radcliffe, had been an accident.
But jurors agreed it was impossible to know whether the friends were aware a police car had been pursuing them at the time of the crash.
It was recorded that the accident was caused by Mr Christian losing control of the car while driving at excessive speed and under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and that the manner of his driving had contributed to both deaths.
On Monday the inquest at Oldham Magistrates Court had heard how the men had drunk Frosty Jack's cider and taken cocaine and ecstasy hours before the smash, in which the car overturned three or four times before coming to a halt against a tree.
A post mortem examination by pathologist Dr Alan Padwell found the quantities of drugs in Mr Christian’s blood would not have been enough to kill him, but combined with alcohol would have had a detrimental effect on his driving.
Mr Christian, who was selected for the England rugby team at the age of 14, was not insured and did not have permission to drive the car, which belonged to his mother, Nicola Christian.
PC Nick Avery, an accident reconstruction officer for Greater Manchester Police (GMP), said the polo had been driven at about 65mph and the crash was caused by excessive speed and driver error, which could have been a result of intoxication.
On Tuesday jurors heard how a police patrol officer who chased the car because its windscreen was frosted over had never performed a pursuit before.
PC David Wilson, a Bury response officer who had completed his pursuit training the year before, revealed an attempt to radio GMP to gain permission to pursue had been unsuccessful.
Seconds later, as the operator asked him if he had pursuit qualifications, he discovered the car upside down outside Newbank Garden Centre.
Both men were trapped inside, having suffered horrific injuries.
PC Wilson was quizzed by Glenn Davenport, a family member of Mr Perris, over whether the polo’s obscured windscreen meant it was dangerous to carry out a pursuit, but argued he felt the safety of both the drivers and the public was at risk.
Mr Robert Dean, a representative of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said an investigation had found no wrongdoing or criminality on the part of GMP.
This verdict was supported by the evidence of Ch Insp Mark Dexter, GMP’s roads policing lead, who said PC Wilson’s actions were “commonplace”.
He said the vast majority of drivers stopped and accepted police intervention and that not to do so was unlawful on the part of the driver.
After the conclusion, Lisa Hashmi, assistant coroner for Greater Manchester North, said: “I have to say the families have shown great dignity and courage throughout.
“I wish to express my condolences to both families and to all those touched by the deaths of both young men.”