Hartlepool minibus driver had cocaine in system during crash with lorry which killed passenger

The collision happened on the A34 near Sutton Scotney in Hampshire. Image copyright Google Maps.
The collision happened on the A34 near Sutton Scotney in Hampshire. Image copyright Google Maps.

A Hartlepool man has admitted causing the death of a minibus passenger in a crash which happened when he had cocaine in his system.

Lee Burdon, of Tristram Avenue, Hartlepool, was driving a Ford Transit minibus that was involved in a collision with a lorry on the A34 southbound near Sutton Scotney in Hampshire, on Monday, February 26.

Passenger Craig Hall, 36, of Middlesbrough, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three other passengers were also injured, two 25-year-old men and a 24-year-old man, who are all from North Yorkshire.

Two of the injured were taken with minor injuries to North Hampshire Hospital and the other was taken to Southampton General Hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the lorry, a 63-year-old man from Warwickshire was uninjured.

The 20-year-old defendant entered his plea at Winchester Crown Court to the offence of causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed drug limit.

The court heard he had 112 mcg/l of benzoylecgonine - a breakdown product of cocaine - in his system.

Judge Andrew Barnett banned Burdon from driving and ordered a probation report ahead of sentencing on Thursday, November 8.

He told him: "You have the good sense and courage to plead guilty to this serious matter and it is a serious matter be under no illusion about that.

"All options will be open to the court including immediate imprisonment."

He released Burdon on unconditional bail until the sentencing hearing.

Sergeant Dick Thorpe, from Hampshire Police's Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said in the aftermath of the collision: "Sadly a man has lost his life this morning and our thoughts are with his loved ones at this time."