Speeding car like bomb in death crash

Source: This is Brighton & Hove
Date: December 9, 1999

A HIGH-powered sports car being driven at speed "exploded like a bomb" when it smashed into a lamp post, an inquest heard.

Furniture salesman Paul Smith, 26, died instantly when his red Toyota MR2 crashed into the post on the central reservation on the Kingsway, Hove, on October 29.

Witness Graeham Evans, of Old Mill Close, Southwick, said: "I was aware of bright lights behind me. The car was coming up so quickly I assumed it was a police car.

"I saw the car in the last stages of a spin and then it hit the lamp post. It appeared to explode on impact just like a fragmentation bomb.

"It came to an abrupt halt and I saw Mr Smith lying face down on the floor."

Mr Smith, of Boundary Road, Hove, died at the scene of multiple injuries.

Moments before the accident he had been enjoying a meal with family and friends in Hove when he received a call on his mobile phone.

Mr Smith's brother Craig, of Denmark Villas, Hove, said: "He said he had to go off for a bit but we should eat our starters and he'd be back for the main course."

It was not known who the call was from but Craig said it was normal behaviour for his family to go off in such a way.

Witness Muna Abdalla saw Mr Smith's sports car driving along 30mph Kingsway at "motorway speeds of about 70 or 80mph."

She said: "I heard a very loud bang. I looked round and saw the car had hit a lamp post.

"There was lots of broken glass flying through the air. I saw the driver slide out of the car and fall on to the road. He didn't move."

Traffic accident investigation officer PC Michael Skingle said the Toyota had "practically been cut in half" by the impact.

It appeared to have hit the kerb, spun round and wrapped itself round the post. He said it would seem driver error had caused Mr Smith to lose control.

Pathologist Geraldine Martin found a low level of alcohol in his blood, less than the legal limit, and a small level of non-prescribed morphine.

Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deely said: "He was driving at what clearly was a high speed. For whatever reason, the car went out of control."

She recorded a verdict of accidental death.