Fa­ther of fa­tal crash vic­tim ques­tions PC’s ev­i­dence at in­quest

Exclusive Coro­ner con­cludes Ian Parker died as a re­sult of a road traf­fic col­li­sion

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Independent Report - By Suz Elvey

A dev­as­tated fa­ther slammed a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion as he des­per­ately tried to make sense of the hor­rific crash that killed his son.

Ian Parker, 29, died when the Citroën Saxo he was driv­ing smashed into a trac­tor in Wich­ling, between Len­ham and Dod­ding­ton, in Novem­ber.

Dur­ing an in­quest into the death ear­lier this year, his fa­ther Robert Parker rub­bished claims by PC Mark Chapel­how and trac­tor driver Mark White, that the trac­tor had been sta­tion­ary when Mr Parker’s car hit it and pleaded with coro­ner Pa­tri­cia Hard­ing to let him write his own re­port.

Re­port

Mrs Hard­ing agreed and on Mon­day Mr Parker quizzed PC Chapel­how dur­ing a re­sumed in­quest at The Archbishop’s Palace in Maid­stone af­ter pro­vid­ing the coro­ner with a doc­u­ment he had hand-writ­ten and a sev­en­page re­port by an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tor.

Mr Parker was con­vinced the trac­tor had been mov­ing when his son’s car crashed into it rather than be­ing pulled in at the side of the road af­ter let­ting an­other ve­hi­cle past.

PC Chapel­how said he be­lieved Mr White’s trac­tor was sta­tion­ary when Ian Parker’s car hit it be­cause it had not pushed the Citroën back­wards.

The of­fi­cer be­lieved the Citroën Saxo hit one of the trac­tor’s tyres and ro­tated around the wheel.

Mr Parker sug­gested blue paint on one of the trac­tor’s tyres – match­ing the car’s paint­work – proved the trac­tor had climbed up onto the Citroën when the ve­hi­cles col­lided, again show­ing the trac­tor had been mov­ing for­ward, but PC Chapel­how dis­agreed.

The po­lice­man said there was “no ev­i­dence of the trac­tor mount­ing the Citroën” as there were no tyre marks or tyre-sized dents on the bonnet.

Mr Parker also felt plas­tic and other de­bris un­der the trac­tor’s wheels proved the larger ve­hi­cle had been mov­ing for­wards but PC Chapel­how said de­bris would have been “thrown in all di­rec­tions” dur­ing the crash, adding that it was hard to see from po­lice pho­tos whether the items were fully un­der the wheels.

Dis­pute

There was a dis­pute over which po­si­tions the trac­tor’s two gear levers were in when po­lice ex­am­ined the ve­hi­cle, but PC Chapel­how was con­vinced the ve­hi­cle was not in a for­ward gear.

PC Chapel­how said: “From all the ev­i­dence – wit­ness and phys­i­cal – I’ve got to say the trac­tor was sta­tion­ary.”

Mr Parker then claimed the large coun­ter­weight on the front of the trac­tor – de­signed to stop the nose of the ve­hi­cle lift­ing off the ground when it pulls a heavy load – was “haz­ardous” since he be­lieved his son’s car had ploughed into that be­fore it hit the tyre.

PC Chapel­how said the car may have hit the coun­ter­weight as well as the tyre, but stressed the ob­ject was le­gal and was used by other trac­tors “on a daily ba­sis on UK roads”.

The of­fi­cer said he was sat­is­fied Ian Parker, a re­cov­ery driver of Kent Av­enue, Ash­ford, was not wear­ing a seat belt as the belt was found “not ex­tended and locked, which I would ex­pect in a col­li­sion of this na­ture” plus there were no fric­tion marks on the belt and it had not been un­done by any­one try­ing to help the driver.

Re­tired Kent Po­lice accident in­ves­ti­ga­tor David Hard­ing, work­ing as a claims in­ves­ti­ga­tor for Ian Parker’s in­sur­ance com­pany, pre­pared a re­port for the Parker fam­ily and spoke at the in­quest.

Con­cern

He said: “I can’t say with any cer­tainty whether the trac­tor was mov­ing or not.”

Mr Hard­ing could not say whether the trac­tor rolled up onto the bonnet of the car, but said some ev­i­dence sug­gest­ing it may have, such as de­bris un­der its wheels, was “a con­cern”.

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