A royal protection police officer was killed when he was run over by a lorry on the hard shoulder of a motorway, a coroner has ruled.
Father-of-three Sergeant David Jennings was returning home from a "mundane and domestic journey to Ikea" when his Vauxhall Agila hatchback swerved sharply across the M25 and collided with the central reservation.
It rolled and came to rest facing the wrong direction in the slow lane, and Mr Jennings, 48, was seen getting out of the driver's side on to the hard shoulder, the inquest into his death at Walthamstow Coroner's Court on Monday heard.
Moments later Mr Jennings, of Ingatestone, Essex, who served in the Met’s Royalty and Specialist Protection Command, tumbled "underneath the trailer of the lorry and underneath the path of the rear wheels" during the accident on March 31, last year.
"Fatally, those wheels passed over David," coroner Ian Wade QC ruled.
The lorry driver, Romanian Andre Logigan, was “completely unaware of what happened” and had "no idea" that his rear wheels were to blame for Mr Jennings lying in the road when he spotted him in his mirror after the incident, the coroner said.
Mr Logigan stopped his lorry after seeing Mr Jennings in the road and walked towards the incident, but turned around when he saw an ambulance and drove on.
Police Constable Clive Austin, collision investigator, told the inquest that the "end result" of the incident was "tragic" but that he did not believe Mr Logigan's "use of the hard shoulder" was "inappropriate".
Pathologist Dr Lockyer's report, which was read to the court, said that Mr Jennings had died from "multiple traumatic injuries" and had "zig-zag" prints on his back from the tyres. Mr Jennings died at the scene.
On the day of his death, Mr Jennings came home from work and had a cup of tea with his wife, before he drove to Ikea.
During the inquest, his wife Jackie Jennings said that he was the most “unlikely” person to die in this way and was an “advanced driver” in the police. She said he had shown no signs of depression or wanting to take his own life.
In a statement released after the coroner's conclusion, Mr Jennings' wife and three children said they were "absolutely devastated" by his "untimely death".
"David was a devoted family man, who lived for his wife and three children; his family meant the world to him. David was a dependable hard-working man who was well respected and well thought of by everyone who knew him,” they said.
"There isn't a single day that goes by when we don't miss his kind, thoughtful, funny ways. David was always so reliable and responsible and his death has left a huge void in our lives."
They said his death was "needless", and that the "lorry driver that killed him will have to live with his actions for the rest of his life".
Patrick Maguire, a specialist serious injury lawyer from Slater and Gordon, who represent the family, said Mr Jennings' death was "completely avoidable”.
He said the family remained deeply upset that there was no criminal prosecution against the driver and that they would be seeking justice through the civil courts.
Additional reporting by Press Association.