Driver 'well in excess' of cocaine and alcohol limit died with girlfriend after truck crashed into tree

A man
-Credit: (Image: Nottinghamshire Police)

A driver who was significantly over the drug and alcohol limit died with his girlfriend after his car shot off a road in Nottinghamshire and smashed into a tree. Nathan Naughton, 26, of New Rossington in South Yorkshire, sped his Ford Ranger pick up truck off the A631 Bawtry Road in Harworth at around 2.15am on Sunday, January 21, this year.

He and his 22-year-old girlfriend Olivia Maltby were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, after being flung from the off-road vehicle. At the Council House in Nottingham city centre on July 1, assistant coroner Nathanael Hartley examined how the two young people had died in the crash.

Mr Hartley explained post mortem examinations had been carried out at the Queen's Medical Centre, the first of which showed Nathan had suffered non-survivable injuries and had been drinking and using cocaine before his death. Olivia's post mortem investigation showed she had "relatively low" levels of cocaine in her blood and was below the drink drive limit, the inquest was told.

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When called to give evidence about the crash, Adam Rigby, of Nottinghamshire Police’s serious collision unit, said: “In this collision we had a number of witnesses travelling behind so witness statements were taken from them. Police also examined CCTV and reconstructed the crash."

DC Rigby read out a statement from one of Nathan’s friends, who was overtaken by his Ford Ranger before it hit the curb at high speed and smashed into a large tree. The statement explained that after a night of drinking at Ben’s Bar in Bawtry, which had been briefly interrupted by Nathan having to return to his home in New Rossington to change his trousers to meet the bar's rules, he and his partner Olivia got in their car to leave.

“I did not think he was drunk and did not have any concerns he was driving. He seemed to be having an argument with Liv inside his truck," DC Rigby said, reading from the friend's statement. "I saw him pull onto the other side of the road and then he came flying by me," the friend told police.

Nathan's friend, who had been taking some other companions home from the bar, had been driving under the 60mph speed limit of the single carriageway - but said he guessed Nathan had accelerated to around 80mph to pass him. The inquest was told Nathan's friend had found himself panicking, saying "brake, brake" in the moments before the pickup crashed into the curb and flew off the road.

He hurriedly stopped by the ruined car, which had its roof and door ripped off by the sheer force of the crash - but the couple had been flung from the pickup and friends in the following car could only find Nathan in the darkness. DC Rigby, reading further from the statement, said Nathan's friend did not think the pair had been wearing seatbelts.

"There have been lots of accidents along [the road in question] and I think it is not well enough lit," his pal told police, before adding: "I don't understand why he did not brake." However, PC David Abbott, forensic collision investigator for Nottinghamshire Police, told the inquest the crash was not caused by a lack of lighting but most likely by Nathan's speeding and inebriation.

PC Abbott explained that because his car was classed as a Light Goods Vehicle due to its size and weight, the fastest it should have been travelling on the road was 50mph. But when the car was examined by forensics officers its speedometer had stopped at 90 mph, with PC Abbott adding: "That probably is a reliable speed to use".

The officer explained police had travelled down the bend using a comparable car to work out the theoretical maximum speed the corner could be driven through at - tests showed this was 60mph. PC Abbott also said Nathan had been "well in excess" of the drug and drink driving limits, with high concentrations of cocaine and ethanol in his blood.

PC Abbott concluded the pickup's two occupants had also not been wearing seatbelts. "Had Nathan been driving at the speed limit the collision may have been avoided," PC Abbott said.

"His impairment would have had a profound effect on his driving." After hearing evidence from the two police officers, assistant coroner Mr Hartley accepted the medical cause of death in both cases as "multiple injuries" from the crash and concluded they should be classed under "road traffic collision".

Mr Hartley, looking to Nathan's family members and friends who had attended the inquest, said: "I offer you my sincere condolences, not just to yourselves, but to anyone touched by Nathan's passing and also to Olivia's friends and family regarding her passing." After the inquest Nathan's mum Amanda Naughton said she was concerned the level of lighting on the Doncaster Council-maintained bend could contribute to future crashes, echoing the worries expressed in Nathan's friend's witness statement.

"That corner can come upon you very quickly. It's bad enough in the daytime but at night it is pitch black - campaigning needs to be done to get something to let drivers know sooner.

"I think he probably would have slowed down [if signage had been further up the road] but nobody knows." When asked about Nathan's drinking and drug use before the high speed crash, the grieving 52-year-old said: "At the end of the day I know he would not have wanted to put himself or Olivia in danger.

"But the only two people that could let us know what happened were in that car. I do not know what has happened."

Amanda said her son was "fun loving" and "hardworking" as well as being a perfect son, brother and friend that "genuinely cared about people". "He is a massive loss, there were a lot of people at his funeral and even people that I do not know have told me he was a lovely and caring lad," she added.