Crash which killed Oundle boat firm workers was an accident

A car crash which killed two Fairline Boats workers in 2014 was an accident, a coroner has ruled.

Thursday, 5th October 2017, 5:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 11:55 am
Flowers left at the scene of the Dingley crash where two workers from Fairline died NNL-140110-120451001

Matthew McKnight, 41, and Paul Jones, 54, both of Market Harborough, died when the Vauxhall Insignia they were travelling in left the A427 between Brampton Ash and Dingley and hit an oak tree, at 5.45pm on Thursday, September 25, 2014.

Driver David Simmonds and fellow passenger Kevin Hindley were also injured in the crash.

The four men all worked together for boat builders Fairline and played for the same darts team at the Red Cow pub in Harborough.

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Flowers left at the scene of the Dingley crash where two workers from Fairline died NNL-140110-120501001

And at the inquest into the deaths of Matthew and Paul in Northampton today (Thursday, October 5), assistant coroner Belinda Cheney concluded both men died in a ‘road traffic accident.’

Before her verdict, she read out statements from doctors about what may have caused Mr Simmonds to crash.

Written evidence from Dr Rahul Tosar, Mr Simmonds’ GP, stated he had suffered no previous medical episodes of note, but said Mr Simmonds had told him of two instances of playing online poker when he ‘lost a couple of seconds of time’.

And evidence from Dr Dennis Chan, honorary consultant in clinical neurosciences at the University of Cambridge, suggested Mr Simmonds may have had a ‘simple, partial seizure’.

Flowers left at the scene of the Dingley crash where two workers from Fairline died NNL-140110-120501001

This was contradicted by evidence from Dr Ian Morrison, a sleep physician, who suggested a brief period of sleep may have caused the crash, but he did not rule out an epileptic seizure.

Pc Cliff Wilkins, a forensic collision investigator for Northamptonshire Police, said at the time of his investigation he suspected Mr Simmonds had fallen asleep or was distracted.

But he added about the crash: “There’s no definitive explanation for its origins. The evidential threshold was simply not met [in order for the CPS to prosecute].

“The loss of control was either through being incapacitated, by simply being distracted for a period of time or through a seizure.”

Belinda then gave her verdict after a 20 minute break. She said: “David Simmonds worked with Paul James and Matthew McKnight. They had a car share arrangement. Paul and Matt were in the back seat. Kevin was in the front seat.

“I accept the road conditions were good, I accept the weather was good. There were no mechanical defects with the car.

“He fell asleep or got distracted. There is evidence he may have suffered a seizure as well.”

She then read out a statement from Matthew’s wife, Sarah, which read: “Matthew was the life and soul of everything we did.

“He enjoyed gardening, walking the dog and holidays with my sisters. Every moment outside of work was spent with the family.

“Everything has now changed beyond recognition. Our whole world has been turned upside down and completely destroyed.”

The coroner then extended her sincere condolences to the families of both men present in the courtroom and said she hoped the inquest would bring closure to them.