Tees

Dead driver Darren Stephenson-Bennett found in roundabout bushes had been drinking

Darren Stephenson-Bennett Image copyright Durham Constabulary
Image caption Darren Stephenson-Bennett's is believed to have died instantly or within hours of the crash from a brain injury

A driver found dead in his car in bushes on a roundabout had been drinking, an inquest has heard.

Darren Stephenson-Bennett from Newton Aycliffe crashed on a roundabout at the junction of the A68 near Darlington.

The 28-year-old was last seen at a party on Saturday 27 August and was found dead by police seven days later.

At an inquest in Crook, County Durham, coroner Andrew Tweddle recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The hearing heard other guests at the party saw Mr Stephenson-Bennett drinking whisky and beer before leaving the party.

Image caption The car was found in bushes on the roundabout at Junction 58 of the A1(M)

It also heard he probably crashed after leaving the party but he was not discovered for a week because his vehicle was obscured by bushes.

It is thought the father-of-three failed to negotiate the roundabout and went through a chevron board before hitting trees.

Mr Tweddle said it was "highly probable" that Mr Stephenson-Bennett was over the drink drive limit when he crashed at 70mph (113km/h).

The hearing also heard he probably died instantly or within hours of the crash from a brain injury.

Image copyright Durham Constabulary
Image caption The car crashed through a road sign and into trees

After his body was found, Mr Stephenson-Bennett's family said: "Darren was a much-loved husband, father, son and brother who was devoted to his family and his daughters.

"Darren was a popular person who would do anything for anybody.

"He was well-liked by all who knew him, extremely laid back and easy going, and no-one had a bad word to say about him."

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