Driver could have been using his phone at time of collision

16:42 01 March 2013

The scene on the B3233 where the collision occurred.

The scene on the B3233 where the collision occurred.

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An inquest heard 20-year-old Greg Matthews sent a text seconds before collision was captured on CCTV.

A YOUNG man who died in a collision at Instow last year could have been using his mobile phone while driving at an ‘inappropriate’ speed, ruled a coroner.

Greg Matthews, of Bickington, was travelling home from work at Appledore Shipyard when the collision occurred at around 2am on March 29.

The 20-year-old, who started as an apprentice with Babcock Marine in November 2008, had been working nightshifts in the month prior to the collision.

He was driving his blue Rover MG ZR towards Instow when he reached the bend just before Zeta Berth on the B3233, a road he knew well, the court heard.

PC Darren Philp, who gave evidence at the inquest at Bideford Town Hall this afternoon (Friday), said he believed the car was travelling at a minimum speed of 52mph when it hit the bend.

He said this did not exceed the critical speed the car could manage the bend at, but an over-steer and subsequent over-correction by the driver caused the car to rotate, hit the bank, and flip onto its roof.

The car was seen on a CCTV camera at the scene of the collision at 1.53am and 33 seconds, but 22 seconds beforehand a friend of Greg’s received a text message from him.

She said she had met him on a night out in Barnstaple and he text her at around 2am, sending her a picture message of their night in town.

PC Philp said he had not verified the times on the phone records and the CCTV, but it indicated that the text could have been sent seconds before the collision occurred.

Greg’s car was discovered by Keith Wood, a security worker patrolling the Instow area, at around 2am.

In a statement read at the inquest, his mum Jacqueline Matthews described him as someone who was loved by everyone and very protective of his sister Heather.

She said: “He had a range of interests including swimming, fencing and dancing, and later joined a group and taught street dancing to younger children.

“He joined the air cadets where he ended up becoming a sergeant.

“He wanted to join the RAF to become a pilot but his hay fever prevented him doing this.”

Jacqueline, Greg’s dad, Roy Matthews and his sister Heather moved to the area in July 2007, and Greg went to schools locally and later Petroc.

He completed his apprenticeship in November 2011 and loved his job at the shipyard, which Jacqueline said was like a family to him.

Jacqueline said she thought Greg was a confident driver and had always felt safe in the car with him.

Investigations of the vehicle found it to be working order apart from a slow release puncture on a rear tyre, which PC Philps said he did not believe contributed to the collision.

A post mortem concluded that Greg, who was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene, died as a result of severe head injuries.

Deputy coroner John Tomalin recorded a verdict of accidental death, and said: “I believe this was a result of an accident on Greg’s part, albeit he may have been using his phone at the time.

“He was a young man just starting out in his life and I am so sorry that you [the family] had to go through this.”

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