Hexham man Dylan Monnelly was over drink-drive limit in fatal crash
A 20-year-old Hexham man was nearly twice over the legal drink-drive limit when the car he was driving overturned on the A69, an inquest heard on Thursday.
Coroner Eric Armstrong recorded a verdict of accidental death for Dylan Monnelly, who died in the early hours of October 19 last year.
Mr Armstrong heard that Mr Monnelly, of Hillcrest Drive, had taken the keys of his grandfather's Renault Clio without permission, before driving eastbound on the A69.
His car overturned between Hexham's Bridge End roundabout and the Corbridge slip road, and he was pronounced dead at 1.30am.
The inquest heard that Sophie Fairless, who was driving a black Vauxhall Astra, told police she was driving in front of Monnelly after they had been at Wentworth Leisure Centre.
After her passenger Clive Crowe said he saw sparks and the car behind them flipped, they took the slip road for Corbridge before heading back up on the other side of the carriageway.
Mr Crowe got out of the car and hopped over the barrier, while Ms Fairless left the scene.
PC Garren Cobb, of Northumbria Police, said the investigation found that Mr Monnelly had lost control of the car, before it hit a grass verge and overturned several times.
There was no reliable evidence which could determine the speed of the car.
Following a post mortem conducted by Dr Nigel Cooper at Hexham General Hospital, the cause of death was recorded as a blunt force head injury. A toxicology report found he had 148 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, with the legal limit being 80 milligrammes.
It was noted that Ms Fairless and Mr Crowe were both arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving following the accident. Ms Fairless was also later arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
PC Cobb said a text message sent from Ms Fairless after the accident suggested it was Mr Crowe who had been driving her car.
The case was passed to the Crime Prosecution Service, but no further action was taken against them.
Recording the verdict, Mr Armstrong said: "There is no suggestion whatsoever that Dylan was driving with the intent to hurt himself and we have got no evidence that anybody else was driving in a way which would have caused the accident," he said.
"I offer my condolences to all of the family members and friends who are here. To lose someone at that age is a tragedy. I can only hope others who hear of it may draw lessons from that and it may cause others to think twice."