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Inquest told speeding crash driver was almost twice the drink limit

The driver of a high-performance car that was pursued by Staffordshire Police officers minutes before it crashed was almost twice the drink limit, the inquest heard.

William Craddock

William Craddock and driver Kaya Morrison-Taylor, both aged 22, and from Walsall, died after the Audi S3 left the A460 Cannock Road, in Westcroft near Essington at about 3.50am on August 1, 2021. Mr Craddock, known as Will, of Newhome Way, in Harden, was in the rear.

The jury inquest at County Buildings, in Stafford, heard that provisional licence holder Mr Morrison-Taylor, of Westbrook Avenue, in Aldridge, had 144 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his system. The limit is 80.

The hearing was told that nine deals of cocaine and crack cocaine, medical tablets used to counter steroids and small helium cannisters were found in the car.

Giving evidence on Thursday, Sergeant Pete Harris of the force's road policing unit said officers involved in high-speed pursuits were expected to act within training policies taking into account road conditions, safety and reasons for their actions.

Sgt Harris was responding to a jury question asking at what point after losing sight of a suspect car would officers decide to keep or switch off flashing lights.

The jury previously heard that officers in a pursuing police Audi 6 were unable to keep up with the grey-coloured convertible that was travelling at calculated speeds of up to 128mph moments before it left the road at the Wood Hayes Road junction.

Pc Samuel Barker-Whitfield and Pc Simon Bridger said they lost sight of it and aborted the chase, switching off blue lights at the M54 at junction one at Featherstone. They continued along the A460, but did not see the Audi S3 leave the road and swerved past a telegraph pole lying in the road - missing the crash site in the darkness.

Giving evidence collision investigator Pc Brian Lovatt said there were two speed cameras in the vicinity and that when driving above the limit past speed cameras, it was "accepted practice" for officers to activate blue lights to avoid prosecutions. The inquest heard that footage showed the police car approaching without them before it reached the cameras.

Pc Lovatt said CCTV evidence showed the police Audi following 30 secs behind the convertible at a speed of 66mph. He said and that none of the men in the Audi S3 were wearing seatbelts.

The Audi S3 was being followed after reports of an alleged assault at about 3am near the Fever nightclub in Cannock and that the suspects Mr Morrison-Taylor and front passenger Alfie Peakman were in an Audi in Backcrofts car park. The unmarked police Peugeot attended at about 3.43am, but the Audi was driven away.

The jury heard it left the carriageway on a right hand bend hitting a telegraph pole, four concrete fence posts and a tree before coming to rest in a garden two-feet below the carriageway. Front passenger Mr Peakman, of who survived, told the jury he had no memory of the crash.

The inquest continues.

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