Glasgow & West Scotland

Police in speed claim over Gordon Lennon fatal crash

Gordon Lennon (right) with former Dumbarton manager Jim Chapman
Image caption Gordon Lennon (right) with former Dumbarton manager Jim Chapman

An off-road crash that killed footballer Gordon Lennon would not have been caused by a competent driver, a fatal accident inquiry has been told.

Dingwall Sheriff Court heard how police concluded that Fraser Hughes had been driving between 30 and 40mph when the 4x4 hit an electricity pole.

Mr Hughes later conceded he may have been travelling at up to 30mph and not the 15 to 20mph he had thought.

Mr Lennon was electrocuted in the crash at Brahan Estate in June 2009.

The 26-year-old, originally from Larne, County Antrim, died shortly after leading his team, Dumbarton FC, to promotion to Division Two.

He lived in Paisley and had a baby son with his partner, Kelly Dempsey.

'Competent driver'

The inquiry heard for a second day from Mr Hughes, 24, who was driving the 4x4 in which Mr Lennon was a passenger.

He had told the inquiry that he was driving at between 15 to 20mph on a downhill mud track at Brahan Estate, near Maryburgh, Ross-shire, when the crash happened.

But he was told Pc George MacAskill, of Northern Constabulary's road policing unit, had carried out an investigation and concluded Mr Hughes had been driving at between 30 to 40mph.

His report into the accident stated: "It is highly unlikely that control of the vehicle would have been lost by a competent driver at low speed."

When the statement was put to Mr Hughes, he replied: "I don't know how to reply or comment on that."

The car valeter from Inverness told the inquiry that he always drove on the track in a low-ratio gear selection in second gear.

But the police investigation discovered the wrecked vehicle was in a high-ratio setting.

The inquiry heard that in second gear, in low ratio, the maximum speed was 18.2mph, but 39.7mph in high setting.

Depute fiscal Ian Smith asked: "Do you accept you could be wrong to the extent that you could have been doing 30-40mph?"

Mr Hughes replied: "I accept you could travel down there at 30, but not 40."

Mr Smith asked: "You accept you could have been travelling at a higher speed of anything up to 30mph?"

Mr Hughes replied: "That could be the case."

The inquiry previously heard how Mr Lennon died after the vehicle crashed into an electricity pole.

The wooden pylon snapped and 32,000-volt cables fell onto the vehicle, electrocuting the 26-year-old as he attempted to escape the burning 4X4.

He was taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, but died about an hour after the crash, which happened at about 1600 BST on 7 June 2009.

The inquiry, before Sheriff Alasdair MacFadyen, continues.

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