Inquest begins into death of Wigan dad and his friend in car crash after police pursuit

CCTV footage of a police pursuit – which ended with the deaths of a Wigan dad and his friend – has been shown to a jury on the first day of an inquest.
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A compilation video was produced by Greater Manchester Police during the investigation into the deaths of Patrick Connors, known as Paddy, and Thomas Sharp, known as Tommy.

It was shown to the jury of seven women and four men on Monday, the first day of an inquest at Bolton Town Hall.

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Coroner Timothy Brennand told the jury that Mr Sharp was driving a Mercedes C200 through Lower Broughton in Salford on Wednesday, September 23, 2020, with Mr Connors, from Golborne, in the front passenger seat.

They passed a marked police vehicle at 11.48pm, which began to follow the car.

The Mercedes increased its speed, so the police vehicle also sped up and emergency equipment – blue lights and sirens – was activated.

Mr Brennand said the jury would hear the Mercedes reached an incline and was on the wrong side of the road, when it collided with two Volkswagen Passats on Frederick Road.

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"It would seem that the Mercedes appeared to attempt to steer or avert what then was self-evidently a high-speed impact,” he said.

Paramedics attended and Mr Connors, 36, was pronounced dead at 12.48am on Thursday, September 24. Mr Sharp, 29, was taken to Salford Royal Hospital but was confirmed to have died at 12.56am.

Post-mortem examinations showed both men died from chest injuries, the court heard.

The CCTV footage was shown to the court, which followed the Mercedes as it drove around Lower Broughton.

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During the pursuit, the police car reached speeds of 87 miles per hour and the Mercedes could be seen driving on both sides of the road.

The court heard from Mr Connors’ wife Margaret, who said he was “fun-loving” and never in a bad mood.

“He had friends everywhere, from one end of the travelling community to the next. He was very close to his family, very close to his cousins and friends and relations,” she said.

Mr Connors was a dad and worked hard as a gardener and handyman.

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He went to a relative’s funeral and wake in Wigan on September 23, 2020, before heading to a pub, she said. While she did not know when he met Mr Sharp, it may have been at the wake.

Mr Brennand had earlier said the evidence may suggest neither of the men was wearing a seatbelt in the car and Mrs Connors confirmed her husband did not always fasten it around him properly.

The court heard Mr Sharp was a member of the travelling community and came from a large family, the youngest of 10 children. He lived on a caravan park in Salford and worked as a builder.

He had been married to wife Alicia for nine years and they had a son and a daughter. She said he “doted” on their children and he “loved life”.

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Mrs Sharp last spoke to her husband at around 11pm that night, asking him to return home, but he did not tell he where he was or what his plans were, she said.

The inquest, which is expected to last for 10 days, continues on Tuesday.