Family’s warning after dad’s drink drive death

Harrogate Magistrates Court.

Harrogate Magistrates Court.

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The heart-broken family of a Knaresborough father who died in a drink drive crash has said his death should act as a warning this Christmas time.

Father-of-two, Christopher Hope, 53, was almost three times the legal drink drive limit when he crashed into a tree near Knaresborough golf club in May.

An inquest held at Harrogate Magistrates Court yesterday (Wednesday December 17) heard that Mr Hope had been drinking since mid-afternoon at The Punch Bowl Pub in Marton-Cum-Grafton, and other pubs in Boroughbridge on May 18 2014.

Coroner Rob Turnbull said alcohol played a significant factor the single car crash which led to Mr Hope’s death .

Outside court the family said: “This should remind people of the dangers and remind landlords to keep an eye out and not over serve, but the responsibility is with the person driving the car.

“At this time of year especially people need to think about it.”

Former general manager of The Punch Bowl, Benjamin Briscoe told the inquest: “At no point would I say that Chris was coming across as being drunk.”

Mr Turnbull said to Mr Briscoe: “He was clearly drunk at the time and you will know you aren’t supposed to serve drinks to people who are drunk.” To which Mr Briscoe said he didn’t serve him and wasn’t the licensee.

Mr Turnbull said: “Did you not think to challenge why he wanted another drink.”

The inquest was told that Mr Hope started drinking at the Marton-Cum-Grafton pub in the afternoon and returned for last orders, after driving to Boroughbridge to other visit pubs with friends.

Mr Briscoe said he had assumed Mr Hope lived locally in the village.

Mr Hope decided to drive home to Knaresborough, despite being more than two and half times the drink drive limit.

He lost control of his Vauxhall Astra at the bend near to Knaresborough Golf Club, and crashed into a tree.

A bartender from The Punch Bowl was also driving the same route home, when he came across the crash scene and found Mr Hope unconscious at the wheel of the car which was partially in a ditch and called for help.

Mr Turnbull concluded that Mr Hope died as a result of injuries sustained in a car crash and said: “The significant factor in this case is the amount of alcohol consumed. That had impaired his judgement when he was driving and lost control of his vehicle.

“At the time he has consumed in excess of two and half times the drink drive limit. This just highlights the perils of drinking and driving and this particular time of year that is a useful message to get out there.”