Policeman believes Durham death crash driver drove ‘deliberately’ into tree

Anthony McElrue

Anthony McElrue

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A TEACHER took no action to stop his car ploughing head on into a tree, an inquest was told.

Anthony McElrue, an English teacher at St Bede’s in Peterlee, crashed his Honda Civic on the A691 road at Lanchester on the outskirts of Durham.

He was declared dead at the scene and had sustained multiple serious injuries.

Police investigations, which involved looking at the marks left by the car’s tyres and inquiries at Mira, a world-leading car-testing facility, concluded the 37-year-old did not attempt to stop the crash.

Officers concluded it could have been caused deliberately.

However, coroner Andrew Tweddle found there was no evidence to say the father-of-two had taken his life or had issues which caused him trouble.

Pc Michael Baxter explained how marks on the kerb and soft grass verge led him to his conclusion.

He said: “Obviously my sole role is to determine how a collision has occurred. I have viewed this collision from every angle and in every possible way and I can offer nothing beyond the opinion that this car was deliberately crashed into that tree.

“The driver was not wearing a seatbelt at the time.”

He also told the inquest, held at Chester-le-Street Magistrates’ Court, those who lose concentration or drift off to sleep often over compensate for loss of control as they are alerted by striking the kerb or other stimulation.

Although other drivers had been on the stretch of road at the time of the crash, at 6.45am on Tuesday, May 25 last year, no one saw the actual impact.

Mr Tweddle recorded an open verdict, saying he was not satisfied beyond doubt it had been an act of suicide.

He said: “It is possible, though perhaps difficult in this scenario, he might have fallen asleep or could have had a medical event.

“It’s possible that control may have been lost for a part of the time and then regained it and then not had time to react appropriately. In short, there could be other explanations.”

Verdict: open