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Road death of binge drinker a 'tragic accident'

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 18, 2012

The death of a father-of-three who was hit by a car as he walked home drunk along an unlit Cornish country road was a tragic accident, a coroner has ruled.

Machine operator John Ireland, 43, of Green Lane, Portreath, near Redruth, was killed shortly after midnight on February 26 last year on the New Portreath Road.

Earlier this year unemployed David James, 19, of Higher Trevethan, Redruth, was found not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving at Truro Crown Court.

The inquest at Truro yesterday heard how Mr Ireland, who would sometimes binge drink, had been walking home from a pub in Redruth when the crash happened.

Mr James told the hearing he had been driving his father's Seat Leon car from Portreath to Pool to drop his friends home following an evening out.

The teenager, who said he had little memory of the accident, said: "I came around a corner and as far as I can remember he stepped in front of me. It all happened in a split second and I am not sure what happened. I have tried to forget about it as much as I can, but it comes to my mind 24/7."

Mr James' friends, Robert Carter and Bryony Thomas, who were in the car when the accident happened, confirmed Mr James had walked in the car's path.

Mr Carter said he had seen a "human-shaped object" wearing black clothing in the middle of the road, adding: "We knew we had hit something."

The inquest also heard from Mr Ireland's partner Desne Hart, who said Mr Ireland often walked home from Redruth to Portreath.

In a statement, she said he had once almost been knocked over by a car at nearby Pool. She said: "He'd almost binge drink and he'd often walk back. He told me that he used to walk along the white line once when he walked back to his home in Portreath.

"That evening he was going out in Redruth with his friend. His death has left a huge void in my life."

She added that Mr Ireland was a quiet person who adored his three daughters.

Assistant Cornwall coroner Barrie van den Berg recorded a verdict of accidental death.

He said: "What happened was unintended by everybody – it was a tragic accident which, in hindsight, could or could not have been avoided."

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