A young driver whose car killed a drunken man lying in the road at night had absolutely no chance of avoiding him, an inquest decided.
Father-of-three Robert McDonnell was “heavily intoxicated” and suffered unsurvivable injuries when a Vauxhall Corsa carrying four friends drove over him on a dimly-lit street.
Driver Matthew Rain, 22, told the court: “It was pitch black – I didn’t see anything.”
And a police accident investigator, who carried out a reconstruction at the scene, admitted that, because of the poor quality of street lighting, the driver would not have been able to stop in time, even if he had spotted the darkly-clothed victim sprawled in the road.
Returning a verdict of “accidental death” on father-of-three Robert McDonnell, Preston deputy coroner Simon Jones said: “I am satisfied that, on the balance of probabilities, Mr McDonnell’s consumption of alcohol that evening was the cause of him being in the carriageway. He either tripped, fell or collapsed, but whatever the reason the driver had no opportunity to avoid the impact.”
Witnesses told how Mr McDonnell, 29, of Gillibrand Close, Penwortham, had been drinking heavily and, after being asked by police to leave the Sumpter Horse pub, had been making his way home along Martinfield Road, Penwortham.
Mr Rain and three friends were driving down Martinfield Road when they felt two bumps. A householder who witnessed the collision said he thought the dark shape in the carriageway was a “black binbag”.
Coroner Jones said the family of Mr McDonnell had expressed concerns about how he came to be lying in the road.
But he said: “The outcome of the police investigation was there was no evidence of an assault by a third party or the involvement of another car.
“I am extremely satisfied every step was taken (by police) to rule out foul play and reassure the family their fears could be allayed.”