Motorist in head-on crash 'had been drink-driving'

Gerald SeddonGerald Seddon
Gerald Seddon
A rugby league supporter involved in a head-on crash after attending a game was over the drink-driving limit, an inquest heard.

An Austin Mini driven by Gerald Seddon spun 180 degrees after colliding with Philip Cottrell’s BMW in St Helens Road, Leigh, on February 4, Bolton Coroner’s Court was told.

Mr Seddon, who had earlier attended Leigh Centurions’ clash with Toronto Wolfpack at Leigh Sports Village, sustained multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene, a short time later, the court heard.

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His son Matthew, a rear seat passenger, and family friend Gareth Holden, who was in the front of the Mini, were also seriously injured as a result of the incident, the inquest was told.

Later it emerged, following a post mortem examination that Mr Seddon, who lived in Newton-le-Willows, had a blood alcohol reading of 112 mg per 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80mg.

But his widow, Susan Seddon, insisted that her husband was always a careful driver and blamed the other driver for the crash.

Mr Cottrell, who was looking to turn right into Jean Avenue at the time, told the hearing he only saw the Mini for a fraction of a second before the collision.

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An eyewitness, John Holden, said in a statement that the Mini appeared to have adopted a “racing line”, to negotiate the bend before the crash site.

But assistant coroner Dr Sue Duncan noted that the collision, which saw the Mini sustain severe damage, took place on a relatively straight section of the road and cast doubt on his observation.

Pc Laura Drew, a forensic crash reconstruction expert, said it appeared, from the witness evidence, that the Mini had performed a “sudden manouevre”, crossing onto the other side of the road, before the collision with the BMW.

In a report, she confirmed there were no mechanical failures with either vehicle, which may have contributed to the incident. But there was evidence of rust, within the Mini, which may have affected is integrity following the collision.

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Recording a conclusion that the death was due to a road traffic collision, the assistant coroner said she was “mindful” that the circumstances of the crash had impacted on a number of lives.

“I can only hope that the inquest today will help to bring closure to all of those affected by this tragedy,” she added.

Leigh Centurions held a minute’s silence at their next game for the life-long fan.

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