England

Devon fatal crash mother 'over limit'

  • 9 September 2010
  • From the section England

A police solicitor from London who killed herself and her daughter in a car crash was three times the drink-drive limit, an inquest has heard.

Veronica Morley, 47, and Zoe, 12, from Dulwich, died when their car crashed into a tree in Devon in 2008.

The inquest in Exeter was told that Mrs Morley had also taken sedatives and may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

The coroner ruled that Mrs Morley accidentally killed herself and unlawfully killed her daughter.

Seat belts

Mrs Morley, who worked for the Metropolitan Police, had a history of alcoholism but had told her family she had stopped drinking.

The crash happened as she drove home to London with her two daughters, Zoe, and Imogen, 14, after a half-term break in Cornwall.

The Toyota Yaris went out of control on the A30 at Whiddon Down and crashed into trees down a steep bank on 25 October 2008.

Mrs Morley suffered fatal head and chest injuries and Zoe died from head injuries.

Both daughters had been rear-seat passengers and all three had been wearing their seat belts. Imogen managed to clamber from the wreckage.

Mrs Morley had a blood alcohol level of 256mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80mg per 100ml of blood.

The sedative diphenhydramine was also in her system.

No mechanical defects

Police crash investigator John Hitchcock told the inquest said she may have fallen asleep.

He concluded that the exact reason for the crash had not been established but the alcohol and sedatives could have impaired her driving ability, judgment and perception.

An examination of the car after the crash found no mechanical defects and that Mrs Morley had not braked before the impact.

Greater Devon Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland ruled that "on the balance of probability her [Mrs Morley's] death was an accident".

She added: "I am satisfied that a reasonable and sober person would realise that Zoe would have been at risk of unintentional manslaughter and so my verdict is unlawful killing."

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