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Driver 'under influence of drugs' inquest told

PUBLISHED: 09:39 08 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:34 08 July 2010

A 22-year-old motorist died after he lost control on a bend and smashed into a large tree was under the influence of drugs, an inquest heard.

A 22-year-old motorist died after he lost control on a bend and smashed into a large tree was under the influence of drugs, an inquest heard.

The resumed inquest on Monday heard that Michael Wright, a fork lift truck driver, of Priory Drove, Great Cressingham, near Swaffham, had been driving while under the influence of drugs.

Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong issued a warning of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs.

A witness told how Mr Wright had been driving too fast and in an erratic manner on the Oxborough Road at Oxborough on July 17 last year when the vehicle went out of control.

Eye-witness Jack Reeve, of Oxborough, a passenger in a car being driven by his wife, Sheila, told the inquest at Swaffham how they were driving along the Stoke Ferry Road at Oxborough on their way home from Downham Market. He said the road surface was damp and he had an unobstructed view of the road ahead.

He told how a silver Citroen Saxo suddenly appeared being driven fast in the opposite direction.

“The Citroen had come round a right-hand bend. The instant I saw it (the car) appeared to be out of control and was erratic and drove towards the opposite verge across the on-coming carriageway” said Mr Reeve in his statement.

Mr Reeve continued: “On reaching the opposite verge, the Citroen bounced off and flicked round towards our direction on the other verge, again on the opposite side”.

Mr Reeve said that when the car hit the tree on the driver's side the impact almost cut the vehicle in half.

An examination of the vehicle by PC Paul Cant, whose report was read in his absence, revealed that there were no faults on the vehicle that would have had a bearing on the collision.

The inquest heard that toxicology tests revealed the presence of “opiates, cannabis and methadone” in Mr Wright's blood and urine. The inquest heard there was evidence of recent morphine and heroin use. There was no alcohol in his blood or urine. He had been wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

Mr Armstrong, recorded a verdict that Mr Wright, died of a road traffic accident. A post mortem revealed he had suffered multiple injuries and would have died instantly.

He said in the absence of any other plausible explanation for the accident, the most likely reason was that Mr Wright's ability to drive was impaired as a result of taking drugs.

Mr Armstrong said Mr Wright was highly-regarded, fun-loving and kind and caring. His loss was still being deeply felt by his family and friends.

Mr Armstrong expressed his sympathy to Mr Wright's parents, Martin and Sandra Wright, his sister, Heidi and his girlfriend, 23-year-old Alice Bennett. They attended the inquest but declined to comment afterwards.

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