Inquest: Drug-drive warning after designer dies in crash

Photo: David Hurst Flowers laid at the scene of a fatal car crash on Low Road.

Photo: David Hurst Flowers laid at the scene of a fatal car crash on Low Road.

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A coroner has warned of the dangers of drug driving as a Lancaster family face Christmas without their son.

Lancaster designer Martin Stables was nine-times over the legal drug driving limit when his speeding car collided with a wall on Low Road, in Halton.

It takes a life time to learn to do things sensibly

Coroner James Adeley

Martin suffered severe head and chest injuries and died at the scene on Sunday July 12 whilst his friend and passenger, James Crawford, suffered multiple injuries and was taken to hospital.

At an inquest held at Lancaster Magistrates Court, Coroner James Adeley warned young drivers of the dangers of driving under the influence.

Mr Adeley said: “There is a motto here, Santa doesn’t drink and drive, young people believe they will live forever, you don’t.

“Martin won’t be back and to James and to anyone else, don’t ever get in a car again with anybody who has taken anything and that includes drugs and driving with mobile phones.

“The damage that this causes to families is incredible and it is really not to be tolerated in this day and age.

“It takes a life time to learn to do things sensibly.”

Martin had spent five years restoring his silver Honda Civic hatchback and was driving it for a number of weeks before the collision.

The 27-year-old went round to Mr Crawford’s house in Skerton before they decided to go for a drive at around 10.30pm.

The pair set off for the drive from Skerton using the back roads when Martin began to speed at which point Mr Crawford said he grabbed tight hold of his seat belt.

In his statement after the crash, Mr Crawford said he told Martin: “Stop driving like an idiot, come on man.”

His statement continued: “I think I froze out of fear and I don’t have any recollection after that.”

Police Constable Robert Newcombe, who attended the scene, said: “The road was in a good state of repair and the national speed limit of 60mph applied. No defects were found on the car and we believe the Honda was travelling between 44 and 54mph around the bend.

“This is the highest level I have seen since the new drug drive legislation came in in March. His sample would have shown he was impaired to drive.

“If Martin was stopped prior to the accident he would have been pulled over and arrested.”

Pathologist Dr Nkonge said Mr Stables suffered severe head and chest injuries which were fatal.

Toxicologist Dr Julie Evans said the level of drugs found in Mr Stables’ system could have caused drowsiness, delayed reaction time and could affect driving.

During the inquest Martin’s mum Annette Stables said: “Martin used to smoke cannabis socially, he didn’t do it all the time.

“It is the scourge of the 21st century unfortunately. That part of the road is notorious.”

Mr Adeley said: “There are two factors, driving close to the legal speed limit at night and secondly the use of cannabis.

“I can’t say cannabis caused the accident as I am not sure what effects it had at the time.” The coroner concluded speed and the use of cannabis contributed to the accident which caused Mr Stables’ death.