Man who died in crash near Cirencester had taken cocaine

A 37-YEAR-OLD man who died when his car collided with trees had taken cocaine and been drinking, an inquest heard.

Gloucestershire Coroner’s Court heard on Thursday, November 17 that Lee Southwick, of Fosse Cross Lane, Cirencester, was also driving a defective vehicle – a Vauxhall Insignia – with a poor braking system and illegal tyres.

Mr Southwick died at the scene of a single vehicle collision around midnight on Saturday, February 26 this year on the A429 Stow Road near Cirencester at the Cherrytree Lane crossroads.

PC Ed Jarvis said the vehicle was damaged on all sides but most of the impact was to the offside. He said all the airbags had been deployed and that Mr Southwick had been wearing a seatbelt.

He also said that needles on the vehicle’s instruments had frozen at the point of impact, showing a speed of 75mph.

“The freezing phenomenon was due to the instrument panel’s motors stopping when the power supply failed. These readings cannot be taken as accurate and only an indication as this would be the speed after braking had been applied,” he said.

An inspection of the vehicle found worn brake pads and semi-seized components plus defective front tyres.

Peter Davies, a specialist at Gloucestershire police, looked at skid marks and examined the scene.

He said: “The cause of the collision was Mr Southwick over correcting a small deviation from the nearside of the carriageway while travelling along the A429, most probably due to his intoxication, causing the vehicle to veer to the offside.

“The inevitable impact with dense foliage and mature trees resulted in his fatal injuries.”

Toxicology tests showed Mr Southwick had confirmed a large amount of alcohol prior to his death with readings more than two-and-a-half times the legal limit.

They also showed that he had consumed cannabis and cocaine in the hours before he died.

Pathologist Dr Hemanth Naik said: “The use of cannabis and cocaine in combination with alcohol are likely to have had a detrimental effect on Mr Southwick and this would hinder his driving ability.”

Assistant Coroner Roland Wooderson recorded a verdict of death by road traffic collision.

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