Tom Maynard: Inquest Verdict 'Accidental Death'

Jason Farrell, Sky News Correspondent

A promising young cricketer was high on a cocktail of drink and drugs before he was hit by a train and died, an inquest has heard.

Tom Maynard, 23, had taken cocaine, ecstasy and was almost four times over the drink drive limit, Westminster Coroner's Court was told.

The inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

The player died last June when he stepped on a live rail and was electrocuted before he was struck by a London Underground train.

He had earlier been stopped by police after he was spotted driving erratically but fled the scene, leaving his keys in the ignition of his Mercedes.

A post-mortem found he had been drinking and taken cocaine and ecstasy in the form of MDMA after a night out with his flatmates.

Mr Maynard was the son of former England and Glamorgan batsman Matthew Maynard and had been tipped as a future England star.

Westminster Coroner's Court heard that tests indicated the cricketer may have been a regular drug user up to three-and-a-half months before his death.

Dr Rosa Cordero said the results showed between 8.7 and 10 nanograms per milligram, which matched some daily users of the drug.

Toxicologist Fiona Perry added that the drugs would cause "significant impairment in coordination and judgement".

Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox described Mr Maynard's death as "absolutely tragic" and called for analysis of hair samples to be considered for future drugs testing by Surrey County Cricket Club, and other sports clubs, to help identify drug users.

Mr Maynard's family have insisted the findings should not define the sportsman, who they described as a "very special person".

The player's girlfriend Carly Baker, a model, wept during the hearing as his last movements were recounted.

Mr Maynard had been on his way to see her on June 18 after going out drinking with friends in Wandsworth, south London, when he died.

Miss Baker said in a statement read in the court that he had phoned her at about 3.30am sounding "very down and depressed".

"For me to say 'what's wrong' is quite unusual," she said. "It was like he needed me. He said 'you're the only thing that makes me happy' and he said it three times."

She added: "I tried to persuade him not to come because I was so worried that he was getting into the car after drinking."

Police in an unmarked car then spotted his black Mercedes in Wimbledon at around 4.15am and pulled him over.

The sportsman ran off and was eventually discovered at 5.10am half a mile away on a London Underground line.

The court heard he had appeared to already be unconscious on the track when he was hit by a train. The train driver said Mr Maynard lay "perfectly still" and had not moved or flinched as he attempted to brake.

Forensic pathologist Simon Poole said the cricketer's injuries included "burns consistent with contact to a live train rail".

Mr Maynard's father Matthew described his son as a "consummate professional" who "did not suffer from depression".

In a statement issued through the Professional Cricketers' Association, his family said: "The results of the inquest do not define our son. The fact that so very many people thought the world of him is what defines him as a person.

"The only people who would judge Tom on the findings of the inquest are people who didn't know him.

"He made choices that night that tragically cost him his life but his devastated family and friends will love and miss him unconditionally, always. He was a very special person and his death leaves a huge hole in all our lives."

The family's sentiments were echoed by Surrey CCC and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), who issued a joint statement, describing Mr Maynard's death as "a terrible human tragedy".

Surrey CCC said it had introduced a team-wide anti-drug policy, while the ECB said it was developing an out of competition testing programme to encompass recreational drugs in addition to its existing anti-doping programme.

Born in Cardiff, Mr Maynard came through the ranks at Glamorgan Cricket Club before moving to Surrey. He had played a match for the club just 14 hours before he died.

He also earned himself a place on the England Lions tour to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at the start of last year.

A charity, The Tom Maynard Trust, was launched in his memory in August, which helps young people in cricket and other sports develop their careers.