Coroner's plea to schools after four young men killed in Leeds drug and drink drive crash

The faces of the victims: (top left to botom right) Declan Grove, Matt Walshaw, Brandon Frew, Caelan Megson.
The faces of the victims: (top left to botom right) Declan Grove, Matt Walshaw, Brandon Frew, Caelan Megson.
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A CORONER has urged schools and driving instructors to tell students about a fatal drink and drug driver crash that killed four young men in Leeds.

Senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin made the plea after an inquest heard the driver of a car involved in a fatal crash in Horsforth in which four young men died was around two and a half times the drink drive limit and had taken cocaine .

Brandon Frew, 19, Caelan Megson, 21, Matty Walshaw, 18, and Declan Grove, 19, all died when the Seat Leon they were travelling in was involved in a crash with a taxi on the outer ring road in Horsforth in the early hours of Saturday, June 30 last year.

Driver in Horsforth fatal crash was two and a half times drink drive limit

Two girls, aged 16 and 17, also passengers in the Leon, were taken to hospital but survived the crash.

Driver Caelan Megson, 21, was around two and a half times the drink drive limit and had cocaine in his system at the time of the crash, toxicology tests read to the inquest revealed.

Recording four verdicts of death due to road traffic collision, Mr McLoughlin said: "Six young people should not have been in a car with a driver who had consumed significant alcohol and cocaine.

"I would ask that every driving instructor in the area cuts out the media coverage from newspapers of this calamitous tragedy and make their students read it so they understand the responsibilities that come with having a driving licence.

"I would encourage every school to look at reports of these sad events and discuss with their students the importance of this - not only for the driver who makes an unwise judgement to drive after his night out - but for his friends who don't question getting into the car.

"The message is clear for young people not to get in a car with someone who has been drinking."

Mr McLoughlin added: "In relation to the families before me today, who have suffered in a most brutal way, you have my most heartfelt sympathy.

"I applaud the way you have all stood shoulder to shoulder to get through the ordeal.

"I suspect your young men would be proud of the way you have done that."

Brandon Frew was the equivalent of more than twice the drink drive limit and there was evidence of cocaine in his system, while passenger Declan Grove was the equivalent of just over twice the drink drive limit, the inquest heard.

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There was evidence of cocaine in passenger Matty Walshaw's system, the inquest was told.

The inquest heard all four boys had been at Brandon Frew's house before going on to a party elsewhere.

Mr McLoughlin read a statement from the boys' friend Kyle Thornton.

Mr Thornton said had been at Brandon Frew's house where Caelan had drunk a small bottle of vodka, six bottles of Desperado beer and two pints of beer from a keg.

Mr Thornton wrote in the statement: "Caelan was drunk. He was dancing about, shouting and he had taken his top off. I had known him for years and I recognised him as being drunk."

Taxi driver Abid Lodhi was driving his Seat Alhmabra on Leeds Outer Ring Road when he saw a car heading towards him near the junction with Bank Garden.

Giving evidence via an interpreter, Mr Lodhi said the car struck his taxi within one or two seconds of him first seeing it.

Mr Lodhi told the inquest the car was on his side of the road and it was a head on crash.

Senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin asked him: "Did you have time to avoid it?"

Mr Lodhi: "I had no chance, I couldn't do anything."

Mr Lodhi, who uses crutches, said he suffered a fractured hip and pelvis, broken ribs, a broken left hand and left knee.

He said he can no longer work as a taxi driver and cannot play cricket or football.

Forensic collision investigator Robert Eyre said the Seat Leon was travelling too fast to negotiate a left-hand bend and estimated its speed from marks on the road at around 82mph.

Coroner Kevin McLoughlin asked him: "Double the speed limit?"

Mr Eyre replied: "Yes."

The investigator said he concluded that the cause of the collision was the excess speed of the Seat Leon.

Mr Eyre said: "The taxi driver would not have had sufficient time to react to the presence of the Seat."

Emotional statements from the families of the victims were read to the inquest.

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Reading a statement from Caelan Megson's mother Joanne Megson, senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin said: "She says Caelan, Brandon and Matty were friends from first starting high school.

"They were all very close. I would say they were like brothers and would have been friends for life."

Mrs Megson added in the statement: "Our family has been left with a massive hole in it and I can't really say how we feel apart from being totally devastated."

Declan Grove's mother Paula Knights wrote a statement read to the court.

She said he had recently started an apprenticeship as a plasterer.

Mrs Knights wrote: "I can say with great pride he was my son and everyone he knew loved him dearly."

"He was loving life and was very happy."

Mrs Knights said in the statement: "Deccy and Brandon went to primary school together and were close friends from the age of six.

"Our world as we knew it ended that day. How could a 19-year-old beautiful boy be gone when his adult life was just beginning?"

Matty Walshaw's father David wrote in a statement that his son loved sport and started playing for Leeds City Juniors from the age of six, adding: "He was pretty much the top scorer each season. He was also involved in cricket, boxing, Thai boxing and golf.

"His greatest love was football and Leeds United.

"He had been going to watch Leeds play since he was four-years-old.

"Matty had been looking forward to the coming season. Sadly, Saturdays at football will never be the same again.

"He was kind, hard working, respectable and polite. He was loved by everybody who knew him or met him."