Harrogate man over twice the legal limit before fatal accident

6 November 2012

The coroners inquest took place today (6 November 2012) for Ashley Murray of West Park in Harrogate, who died during a road traffic accident on the the A61 – Leeds road at 11pm on 14 July 2012.

The inquest was attended by Ashley’s mother – Joanne Murray, the only witness to the incident – Karen Browning, North Yorkshire Police, along with a number of Ashley’s friends.

The inquest heard that Mr Murray, aged 27, had been drinking with friends in Harrogate town centre from lunchtime on the 14 July, throughout the afternoon where he had consumed ten pints of lager.

At 7:30pm he had driven to Kirkby Overblow to attend a 21st birthday party, before returning at 9:15pm to the town centre to continue drinking with a friend.

He shortly left the town centre, along with the friend, both heading separate ways home.

It is not clear where Mr Murray was from this time until the accident, although he will have returned home to pick up his vehicle.

Karen Browning from Heckmondwike had been in Harrogate enjoying a meal with friends.  She was returning home, along with a friend, in her blue Citroen Picasso along the Leeds Road. She first noticed Mr Murray’s vehicle, a Porsche Boxster, being driven very close to her own, before it then overtook her on the chevron/ solid white lines on Almsford Bank before moving back onto the carriageway in front of her vehicle.

As they came to bottom of Almsford Bank, at the right hand bend, Karen Browning witnessed the Porsche clipping the kerb on the left hand side before veering towards the centre of the road. The vehicle then spun and headed off the road. She saw that the vehicle was on the roof and immediately phoned the emergency services.

Police, Fire and ambulance all attended, but Mr Murray was pronounced dead at the scene.

Road Traffic investigation, corroborated that it was likely that the kerb was clipped and that Mr Murray over compensated taking his vehicle to the centre of the road, to which he then over compensated again causing the the rear of the vehicle to lose grip and fish-tail around in an anti-clockwise direction.

The vehicle then gained traction to a degree, but by this time the vehicle was out of control and left the road, down a bank, where it collided with a tree. The drivers-side door took the impact of the tree, causing the vehicle to then come to rest on its roof.

Both the witness and road traffic investigator reported that the road conditions were good. The road was dry, visibility was excellent and there was street lighting. Collision investigator, PC McCulloch further reported that the Porsche was in a good state of repair and the roadway was well maintained.

Mr Murray received multiple injuries, including a head injury that would have lead to his rapid death following the accident.

Blood toxicology reports showed evidence of alcohol and light cocaine use, with 193mg of alcohol per 100ml –  80mg being the legal level for driving or over twice the legal limit. At that level it would have caused drunkenness, impaired co-ordination an reduced inhibitions.

The coroner summed up, that Mr Murray died as a result of an accident that was caused by driving under the influence of alcohol and that Mr Murray’s decision to drive was likely to have been influenced by alcohol.

The coroner continued adding that speed was not a factor in the accident but his ability to drive was hampered.

Coroner Rob Turnbull said:

Take note, drinking and driving do not mix. That message has to be reinforced.

People simply should not get into a vehicle if they have been drinking.


Traffic Sergeant Hamish Halloway said:

This collision is a tragic reminder of a young male, Ashley Murray, aged 27, who lost his life as a result of drink driving.

He was in his prime and had his full life to live.

North Yorkshire Police actively discourage drink driving and would encourage those who are wanting to have a drink to have a nominated driver or take alternative transport.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.


1 Comment

  1. How can the coroner say speed was not a factor? If this drunk driver had toddled along at 40 mph he would still be alive.

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