Drink-drive death horror

AN East Devon man was almost three times over the legal drink drive limit when he crashed his car and died, a court heard.

AN East Devon man was almost three times over the legal drink drive limit when he crashed his car and died, a court heard.

John Charles Bingham, 58, had been close to his home in Fairview Lane, Wilmington, near Honiton, when his blue Renault Megane hit a silver Fiat Ducato van head-on, on December 22, 2008.

An inquest, held at Honiton Magistrates' Court, was told it was unlikely Bingham had been wearing a seat belt and had been flung over to the passenger's side - sustaining massive head injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

In a statement, witness Dr Martin Lee said he saw Bingham swerving and braking for no reason - causing other cars to move out of the way - and called the police.


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He said: "The driver was very erratic in his driving and I saw him twice going over to the other side of the road, as if he was going to overtake, but didn't.

"I called the police, because I thought the driver was going to kill somebody if he didn't stop."

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A waitress at Caf� Bar 102 said Bingham had visited at around 4pm and drank four glasses of wine during her shift. She believed he had been drinking previously, but he told her he was taking the bus home.

A pathologist's report revealed Bingham had 319 millimeters of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The legal limit 80.

Christopher Victor Lawrence, 69, and his son, Peter, from Plymouth, had been in the Ducato, which Bingham's car collided with. They were described as the 'walking wounded' ,but sustained only minor injuries.

Reading a statement, Mr Lawrence said: "The appearance of a car was so sudden I didn't have time to make a conscious decision - to brake or steer.

"There was nothing I could do to avoid the collision.

"At the time of the collision, I could see no reason why the car was on my side of the road."

Bingham's brother, Dr Gerard Bingham, said to Mr Lawrence: "I'm sorry. I'm glad you weren't hurt."

Mr Lawrence accepted the apology, and said: "It's one of those things."

Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland recorded a verdict of accidental death. She said Bingham had died from head injuries, with multiple body injuries contributing to his death.

She said: "All that remains is to convey our sympathies. Thank you very much for coming all this way."

Married father-of-two Dr Bingham, 52, was informed of his brother's death just after midnight the following day - on his wedding anniversary.

He said: "I knew something was wrong straight away. My first question was: 'Has anybody else had been hurt?"

While he mourns his brother's death, he does not condone his actions.

He said: "It was annoying. Drink driving is not something I agree with, or have ever done.

"He decided to drink and drive a car - and it's a shame, because I think his life was worth so much more than that."

Dr Bingham revealed he chose a low-key funeral for his brother because of the circumstances of his death.

Instead of bouquets, he requested people donate money to a charity for victims of road accidents.

The money went to SCARD (Support and Care After Road Death and Injury), incorporating CADD (Campaign Against Drinking and Driving).

He paid tribute to his brother, who he described as a 'character' and life and soul of the party.

He said: "He was a wonderful brother to me.

"He was my only brother and we were very close. We only had one wrong word in 20 years. We never fell out.

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