RETIRED HGV driver David Cornes deliberately steered his car into a stationary lorry parked on the lay-by of a dual carriageway, an inquest at Warrington heard today.

The bonnet of his Citroen C3 ended up wedged beneath the back of a trailer on the Warrington-bound A56 Chester Road in Daresbury.

The divorced 82-year-old, who lived alone in Widnes died at the scene on October 17 last year, the hearing was told.

No-one saw the collision at around 1.30pm but driver Gary Smith heard the impact.

He was sitting in his van parked in front of the lorry when the vehicle struck.

He told the inquest: “I heard a loud bang.”

He called the emergency services after the lorry driver asked him for help in broken English.

“I saw the vehicle embedded in the rear of his trailer,” said Mr Smith.

The pair broke into the crushed car through the back door and found the casualty ‘completely unresponsive’.

Another driver stopped and did CPR. Paramedics continued in vain to try and resuscitate him.

PC Steve Binns, from the collision investigation unit of Cheshire Police, said the lorry driver, who has returned to Romania, had parked 12 minutes before the collision.

The expert accident investigator carried out an extensive examination of the scene and staged a reconstruction.

Mr Binns told the inquest: “There was no evidence of braking.

“Mr Cornes made two distinct steering movements, into the lay by and into the vehicle and collided at a shallow angle.”

He said he could not have drifted over because of the distance his car travelled along the layby and the way it was positioned after the impact.

Tests revealed that Mr Cornes had not been wearing a seatbelt.
Vehicle examiner Maurice Jones found no defect or failure of the Citroen which could have caused a sudden loss of control.

Pathologist Dr Nawal Alash carried out a post-mortem examination.

The cause of death was significant traumatic injuries to the chest and heart following impact between the chest and the steering wheel.

Forensic toxicologist Dr Collin Seneviratne found no alcohol or drugs in blood and urine samples that could have contributed to the crash.

GP Dr Paul Hurst confirmed that Mr Cornes had been diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder in 2003 but had failed to engage with mental health services.

He was referred for an assessment in 2013 after concerns were expressed over ‘strange behaviour towards neighbours’.

In a report, mental health social worker Catherine Norman said she tried three times to speak to Mr Cornes at home but he was unavailable.

She was asked by the police to assess him again four weeks before the fatal collision. 

Mr Cornes had been arrested for harassment and damaging a neighbour’s property and was in custody.

She said she found no evidence of mental health problems and he told her he was ‘feeling 100 per cent Ok’.

Senior coroner for Cheshire Alan Moore said: “I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Cornes intended to take his own life and did so by steering off the carriageway into the rear of a stationary lorry.

“He didn’t apply his brakes or steer away from the vehicle.

“There is no evidence that might have led him to lose control like a heart attack or stroke. Nothing untoward was found wrong with the car.”

He concluded that Mr Cornes had committed suicide.

No relatives were present at the inquest. His next of kin, a nephew, was unable to attend.