Inquest hears Wells man Alan Taylor was four times over the legal cannabis limit before collision which killed him near Burnham Market
PUBLISHED: 12:18 02 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:56 05 December 2016
A man who died after his car spilt in two from a collision had been speeding and was four times over the legal limit for cannabis.
An inquest held in Norwich this morning heard how Alan Taylor, of Northfields Crescent, Wells, had been driving along the B1355, between North Creake and Burnham Market, in his green BMW 318 at around 7.30pm on Friday, May 20.
He narrowly avoided a car travelling in the opposite direction, but then crashed into another. A post-mortem after his death found he was four times over the legal limit for cannabis.
In a statement read out by assistant coroner Nicholas Holroyd, Norfolk Coroner’s Court heard that Peter Beukers was travelling along the 60mph-limit road and saw Mr Taylor’s BMW approaching him.
Mr Beukers, who was on holiday at the Three Acres caravan site near Fakenham with his wife Wendy, said: “The first thing I saw was the car emerge from a right-hand bend, I thought he was over a bit. It looked like it was travelling at least 80mph, it looked out of control and it looked like the driver was fighting to keep it on the road.”
Mr Beukers said the BMW passed a car travelling in front, but then started to lose control.
In the car in front of Mr Beukers had been Wayne Dodds, his wife Edith, their baby daughter and their friend Archie Finch.
Mr Dodds said they also saw Mr Taylor’s BMW come around the bend. He said: “It was travelling super-fast, it was shocking. It closed on us very quickly.
“It reached us but did miss us without contact. I kept looking over my shoulder, it was a couple of seconds later we saw debris flying up into the air very high. I would say it was travelling over 100mph.”
Mr Taylor’s BMW had collided with Mr and Mrs Beaukers’ car. And although Mr Beukers said he managed to get out of his blue Mercedes C200, his wife was trapped and had to be cut free by the fire service.
“Wendy was crying out in pain,” he said.
Mr Dodds came to the scene and called emergency services, while another man - who had heard the crash while in his garden - approached Mr Taylor, who was lying on his back in the road.
He told Mr Beukers that Mr Taylor was dead, and sat with the couple until emergency services arrived around 15 to 20 minutes later.
Paramedic Andy Tickle said, in a statement, that Mr Taylor had quite a large laceration to his neck.
“The position of the neck suggested a spinal fracture,” he said.
A post-mortem carried out at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on May 26 found Mr Taylor died of multiple injuries due to a road traffic collision.
Reading from the post-mortem report, Mr Holroyd said: “Samples of blood and urine were also taken for toxicology. There was a quantity of cannabinoids.”
He said the report found Mr Taylor had “used cannabis prior to his death which may have impaired his driving, but the effect is difficult to ascertain.”
This conclusion was echoed in a statement from PC Jamie Hutchin who said the toxicology report found “THC at 8.2mg/100ml which is above the legal limit of 2mg.”
He added the level of damage to the BMW and the scene suggested the BMW was travelling “in excess of the speed limit.”
Giving his conclusion, Mr Holroyd said: “Evidence has been given that Mr Taylor’s vehicle was travelling at a speed considered excessive. And no doubt as a result of that and medical matters he lost control of the vehicle which began to fish tail one way and the other. One vehicle had been able to pass him but tragically the vehicle driven by Mr Beukers has a terrible impact.”
He added it “literally split [the BMW] in two. He died, no doubt, instantly from the terrible injuries.
“There was, in Mr Taylor’s system, a quantity of cannabis. I have got no doubt the effect was a substantial factor.
“The accident was of course a road traffic collision, and the conclusion is that of a road traffic collision.”
At the time of the crash in May an announcement in the Eastern Daily Press said Mr Taylor was the beloved grandson of Alan Smith and the late Sally Smith, of Wells, adding: “He will be so sadly missed. Rest in peace.”
Friend Stevie Marriott paid tribute to Mr Taylor. He said: “He was one of those people who was always cheerful, always polite, if you said: ‘Alan, can you do something for me, he’d say yes.
“He was one of the very few people I’ve ever known who never criticised anybody, never found fault with anybody, never said anything unkind. Everyone liked him, he was a really good sort.”
Mr Marriott, 66, a professional wrestler, said he got to know Mr Taylor when he worked as a gas delivery driver.
“Everybody you speak to, everybody in Wells is devastated,” he said. “He was brought up there, he went to school there, in a small place the loss of a person is felt. Everybody knows everybody in Wells.”
Tributes to Mr Taylor, including flowers and cans of beer, were left at the crash scene.