Inquest hears how drink-driver died after crashing into lamppost near Ottery St Mary

The inquest was heard at County Hall in Exeter. Picture: Terry Ife

The inquest was heard at County Hall in Exeter. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Labourer Robert Trott was not wearing seatbelt prior to fatal collision

A labourer was almost three times over the drink drive limit and not wearing a seatbelt when he crashed into a lamp post, an inquest heard.

Robert Trott, 53, lost his life on June 16, last year at Ottery St Mary’s Daisymount junction when he was partially flung through the window of his van on impact and ‘crushed’ by the vehicle despite efforts of bystanders to lift it off him.

The coroner at Exeter’s County Hall yesterday (Wednesday) concluded Mr Trott died from multiple injuries that – had he been wearing a seatbelt – may well have been lessened.

A post-mortem revealed 233mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in Mr Trott’s system – the legal driving limit is 80mg – and a pathologist stated it would be a sufficient volume to ‘significantly impair’ the ability to drive.

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Mr Trott, of Kennford International Caravan Park, was working as a labourer on the Bovis Homes development in Barrack Road, and had spent the afternoon of June 16, in The London Inn with colleagues watching England versus Wales in the Euros.

The inquest heard he had been offered a lift home with friend and colleague Stuart Beesley, but was seen on CCTV leaving the pub car park alone after the match at 6.11pm.

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In a statement, Mr Beesley, a site manager, said: “He was a good hard worker and we became friends. I was training him to be a foreman.

“We are all devastated. He was a lovely guy who kept himself to himself. He was highly regarded by all.”

The inquest heard evidence from builder Lee Strawbridge who had been driving behind Mr Trott on Exeter Road, heading out of Ottery.

Mr Strawbridge witnessed the van swerve twice onto the verge on the approach to Daisymount and described seeing the vehicle go straight across the roundabout and collide with the street lamp, twist around and land on its side.

Mr Strawbridge said in a statement: “I immediately stopped and called emergency services. I saw the driver had been partially ejected through the driver’s door window.

“He seemed to be struggling for breath and a purple coloured discharge was coming from his mouth. There was no response from him.”

Mr Strawbridge said other members of the public arrived at the scene and there were unsuccessful attempts to pull the van off Mr Trott.

Ambulance crews were at the scene by 6.42pm and said by this time there was no cardiac output.

Speaking at the hearing, forensic collision investigator PC Simon Bishop described the vehicle’s final position, lying on its off-side, and said there was ‘no sign the seat belt had been used’.

Examinations showed there were no mechanical defects on the van that would have caused or contributed to the collision.

In summary, assistant coroner John Tomalin concluded the vehicle had been observed driving ‘erratically’ and left the road on two occasions prior to the crash.

He said: “It appears he was not wearing a seatbelt and if he had been, it may well be his injuries may have been lessened. Whether he would still have lost his life, we cannot say. But it’s more likely than not he would have been contained within the vehicle when, as it was, he was crushed by the vehicle.

“Why he did not take up the offer to have a lift home, we will never know.”

Mr Tomalin concluded alcohol consumption and not wearing a seatbelt were contributing factors in Mr Trott’s death and said it was ‘a serious enough incident that could have been worse if others had been caught up in it’.

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