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Teenager, 17, died after 'tragic accident' on West Norfolk road, inquest told

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A court has heard how a "tragic accident" on a country lane led to the death of a West Norfolk teenager.

Charlie Mark Turner, who was 17, sustained a brain injury following the collision on Station Road, Middleton nearly two years ago.

An inquest into his death, held today in Norwich, was told that neither he nor the two other occupants of the vehicle had been wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.

The Norfolk Coroner's Court at County Hall, Norwich (54420852)
The Norfolk Coroner's Court at County Hall, Norwich (54420852)

And a lawyer for Charlie's family, Neil John, said: "Clearly this was a tragic accident."

The court heard that Charlie had been a rear seat passenger in a Ford Fiesta which crashed while negotiating a right hand bend on the evening of April 22, 2020.

The vehicle collided with a raised verge before overturning and coming to rest on its roof.

Charlie Mark Turner (54427093)
Charlie Mark Turner (54427093)

Although the driver and front seat passenger were able to escape once a passing motorist had smashed the windows, Charlie remained unresponsive and had to be freed from the vehicle.

Following resuscitation at the scene, Charlie was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he died six days later.

The court heard Charlie been picked up in the car earlier in the evening by his friend, Harvey Cross, after leaving his father's home following an argument.

The pair, together with another friend, then travelled to Lynn where they purchased canisters of nitrous oxide, before going on to the Leziate area.

A video recovered from Mr Cross' phone appeared to show the three each consuming some of the gas at 7.29pm that evening, 18 minutes before the crash occurred.

Mr Cross – who has previously pleaded guilty to causing Charlie's death by careless driving – admitted he had taken the gas, which can impair driving for up to 30 minutes after inhalation.

The court heard that he had only passed his driving test in January 2020.

And a forensic collision investigation report by PC Graeme Brookes concluded that his inexperience, the effects of the gas and excessive speed for the corner, though not of a level which exceeded the limit for that stretch of road, were likely to have contributed to the crash.

The report also found none of the occupants had been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

And PC Brookes added: "Had he [Charlie] been wearing a seatbelt, the specific circumstances in which he died are less likely to have occurred.

A post-mortem examination concluded that the primary medical cause of Charlie's death was a brain injury.

Pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift said the position in the vehicle which Charlie was found meant he would suffered positional asphyxia, leading to both the brain injury and cardiac arrest.

He said he was unable to say whether intoxication had been a factor and he could not test for the presence of nitrous oxide.

Ahead of the hearing, questions had been raised by Charlie's family as to whether earlier calls to the emergency services might have prevented his death.

The court heard emergency crews arrived on the scene 11 minutes after the initial emergency call.

And Dr Darcy Pearson, a consultant at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said the response was unlikely to have been a factor in Charlie's death.

Mr John added that it was "unfortunate" that seatbelts had not been used.

Senior coroner Jacqueline Lake concluded that Charlie had died as a result of a road traffic collision.

She offered her condolences to Charlie's family and thanked members of the public who had helped on the night of the crash.

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