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
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.
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.
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.
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”.