Mystery still surrounds Burnley dad’s car smash death

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A BURNLEY father-of-four was killed after he grabbed the wheel of a car his friend was driving causing it to crash, an inquest heard.

Christopher Roberts (26), of Sedburgh Street, was on his way into the town centre when the Fiat Punto he was a passenger in smashed into a gatepost outside Sir John Thursby College, Eastern Avenue, in January.

Mr Craig Evans, who was the driver of the car, gave evidence at the inquest saying he had spent a large majority of the day with Mr Roberts going to the gym, to a few pubs and then back to Mr Roberts’ home. According to Mr Evans, the pair had set off into town because Mr Roberts, who had seemed “wound up” during the day, wanted to meet somebody who owed him £80.

He said his demeanour was “weird” as they were driving towards town and he had tried grabbing the wheel earlier in the journey.

“I can’t give an explanation as to why he did it. He just suddenly grabbed the wheel, I hit the kerb and then I remember a loud bang. I remember telling him to wake up but then I must have passed out.

“He had wanted to drive so I don’t know if he was trying to get me to pull over or he wanted to get out.”

Accident investigator PC Richard Roberts said the direction the car, which he believed was travelling between 38 - 45 m.p.h., had taken before crashing was consistent with taking a sharp turn to the left. He also revealed a lack of markings on the seat belts suggested neither men were wearing them and the car had been fitted with a temporary spare tyre, which had little to no tread on it.

Mr Roberts died at the scene of the crash and Dr Zuhair Twaij, who conducted the post-mortem examination, said the cause of death was multiple injuries.

Recording a narrative verdict, East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor said there must have been some sort of “interference” with the wheel but there was always going to be “speculation on the reasons”.