Tragic death of horrific stabbing survivor

Ashley Murray (s)
Ashley Murray (s)

A young Harrogate man died in a “tragically ironic” road accident a decade after surviving a brutal knife attack, a coroner has heard.

Ashley Murray, 27, suffered serious head injuries and was killed almost instantly when he lost control of his Porsche Boxster and crashed into a tree in July this year.

An inquest at Harrogate Magistrates Court on Tuesday, November 6, heard that Mr Murray – who survived a horrific stab attack at Birk Crag in 1999 – was nearly two-and-a-half times the legal drink drive limit when his sports car span out of control at Almsford Bank on the A61 late at night on Saturday, July 14.

Coroner Rob Turnbull read statements from friends who had seen Mr Murray drinking in town centre bars and at a party in Kirkby Overblow earlier in the day. Karen Browning, a driver who was the only witness to the accident, gave an emotional testimony at the hearing.

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Mrs Browning was travelling back to her home near Bradford on the night in July, and described seeing Mr Murray overtake her Citroën C3 Picasso before losing control of his car on the road out of Harrogate towards Leeds.

Road traffic investigator TC Graham McCullough also gave evidence. He said it seemed “tragically ironic” that after surviving a horrific stab attack as a teenager Mr Murray should die in such circumstances.

In his evidence TC McCullough described marks on the road which showed the Porsche had hit the kerb at a bend in the road before spinning into the middle of the carriageway.

He said while a skilful driver may have been able to correct the spin and negotiate the bend safely, it is possible Mr Murray’s driving was affected by alcohol and light cocaine use

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Murray’s mother Jo paid tribute to her son. She said: “For those of us who knew and loved him he was a wonderful, fine young man. He was loved by everyone. He had extremely high standards because of what happened to him in 1999 – he would never hurt anyone and would go out of his way to help people without expecting anything back.

“He was bright, engaging, fun and successful, and he had the best friends in the world.”

Driving when he had been drinking was not normal behaviour for her son, Mrs Murray added.

“He would usually be the one advising others not to get behind the wheel if they were thinking about it.”

Mr Murray died as a result of an accident, the coroner ruled, and giving his verdict Mr Turnbull said:

“It strikes me [Mr Murray] had a host of very good friends, and clearly he had spent the evening prior to July 14 making plans for a future holiday.”

He added: “I trust those who are here will take note of the fact that drink and driving do not mix. If any good is to come out of this it is that this message will be reinforced.”