Inquest held into death of local footballer Barry Anderson who died after car crashed into house

A popular footballer died when his high-powered Audi left the road and crashed into a house, an inquest heard.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 5:00 am

Barry Armstrong was certified dead by paramedics at the scene of the crash in Chicester Road in the early hours of January 24 last year.

Two passengers in the car, Toni Griffiths and Brian Slater, were seriously hurt.

An inquest at Hebburn Central Hub heard the three had left Roxanne’s nightclub at the same time as a number of people who were travelling behind them in a Nissan Qashqai.

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Barry Armstrong

Qashqai passenger Andrew Calvert told the hearing the plan had been to go back to Mr Slater’s flat but Mr Slater said he had simply been offered a lift home by Mr Armstrong.

Mr Slater told the hearing that he had the impression Mr Armstrong had been trying to shake off the Nissan when the crash happened. The chance came when the Qashqai stopped at traffic lights and Mr Armstrong accelerated away: “We got to Anderson Street and that is where we lost the Qashqai – the Qashqai got stuck at the lights, I think,” said Mr Slater.

Accident investigator PC Jon Featherstone told the hearing he had calculated the maximum speed for the bend on which the Audi crashed as 60mph. The speedometer, which had stopped at the time of the impact, read 75mph, though it was possible this was slightly over the true speed.

"It must be considered that Mr Armstrong was travelling far in excess of the 30mph limit,” he said. “Due to the excess speed, Mr Armstrong has been unable to negotiate the left-hand bend safely..”

Floral tributes at the crash scene

Post-mortem toxicology tests showed Mr Armstrong had a blood alcohol level of 214 milligrammes in 100 milliltres of blood – the legal limit is 80 – and had taken cocaine in the 24 hours before his death.

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A pathologist’s report said the combination would have ‘severely impaired his driving ability, judgement and control of the vehicle’.

Coroner Terence Carney said the evidence in the case had been ‘both confused and confusing’ and there were ‘clear conflicts’, ‘whether that be through the level of intoxication or possibly through influence that may have been brought to bear’.

But he concluded: “The sad and simple truth here is that this young man has lost his life as a result of a road traffic collision and in so far as I have to categorise his death, that is the category with which I propose to conclude it.

"Barry Armstrong, on the 24th of January, 2020, died outside 109 Chicester Road from multiple injuries sustained in a road traffic collision and that my conclusion here would simply be that he died as a consequence of a road traffic collision.”

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