Dylan Crossey: What happens next as search for answers continues five years on from his death

Dylan Crossey’s family and friends welcomed the long-awaited inquest into his death being dramatically halted.

By Adam Lord and Catherine Musgrove
Thursday, 7th October 2021, 12:15 pm
Dylan Crossey
Dylan Crossey

It came as Coroner Dr James Adeley decided on the fifth of five scheduled days at County Hall in Preston to refer the matter back to the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider prosecuting driver David Harwood for gross negligence manslaughter.

The inquest came nearly five years after the death of the 15-year-old aspiring footballer and pupil at Penwortham’s All Hallow’s High School, who was hit by a car in Whitesnake in 2016.

Now on the fifth anniversary, his family are making a fresh appeal for information about what happened on that fateful night.

What happened that night?

Dylan had been out cycling in Whitestake with a school friend late at night on October 7, 2016 when he was struck by a car which failed to stop.

Dylan suffered multiple injuries, particularly to his head, and after being treated by the major trauma team at the Royal Preston Hospital, was transferred to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where he died the following lunchtime.

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She said it was likely that his head had struck the car windscreen and that even if he had been wearing a cycle helmet it was unlikely he would have survived.

Why is the case still not resolved five years on?

The original Crown Court case against Harwood collapsed three years ago on a charge of causing death by dangerous driving due to a lack evidence.

His mum, Tracey Milligan from Buckshaw Village, has been fighting for an inquest ever since, in order to find out key facts leading up to her son’s death and because she cannot get a death certificate until it has taken place.

A inquest was postponed in March 2019 before in July it was decreed that it would finally be held in front of a jury last month, including a full reconstruction.

There had been several delays in scheduling the inquest including evidence gathering and due to the pandemic.

What happened at the inquest?

Harwood, now 46, claims not to have seen the boys or the collision. He says he thought accident damage to his car had been caused by hitting an animal, possibly a dog.

He gave evidence on day three of the inquest, the first time Dylan’s family had heard him speak.

On day four of the inquest, three accident investigators told the jury they would have expected Mr Harwood to have seen Dylan.

A reconstruction of the accident, ordered by the Coroner, revealed that six out of seven volunteers reported being able to see “something that required their attention” in the road ahead from 85m away. At 60m away, six out of seven people were certain they could see a bike in the road.

What brought the inquest to an abrupt halt?

An application was made by the teenager’s family for the matter to be reinvestigated in the light of new evidence which came to light.

It all came under the Coroner’s Inquest Rules and Dr Adeley had to adjourn the inquest and notify the DPP believing the reconstruction ordered by him had “provided considerable new evidence and insight into the case.”

What happens now?

Dr Adeley warned the family that it could be some time before a new trial is heard.

He told the inquest: “It could take months, even 12 months”, before a decision could be made by the DPP about a possible new trial.

“It will take time for the police to complete the enquiries they will need.”

The family’s hope

Dylan’s mum Tracey said after the inquest: “We will now wait and hope that the police do a good, thorough reinvestigation and no stone is left unturned.

“I don’t want any other family to go through what we have gone through. That was always my intention.”

Speaking on the fifth anniversary, family lawyer Sefton Kwasnik said: “Did you see something that night that has been ignored, or hasn’t been investigated?

“Can anybody remember seeing a silver BMW that afternoon or evening? If you know Mr Harwood, did you see him that day in and around the local community?”

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