Hampshire gold traders killed in Porthcawl car accident

Image caption,
The car was split in two after going off the road and hitting a tree

Three teenagers and a 43-year-old man died after their car split in half in a crash in south Wales, an inquest has heard.

The four, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, had been trading gold and jewellery in the Porthcawl area in April 2010.

The only survivor, 27, could not remember and there were no witnesses to the crash on the A4229. Investigators said speed was a likely factor.

Recording accident verdicts, Glamorgan coroner Peter Maddox said: "We'll never really know what happened."

Passengers Danny Philbrow, 43, Tommy Marsh, 17, and Tommy Elmes, 16, were killed when driver Lewis Mackley, 18, lost control of the silver Vauxhall Vectra.

Another passenger, Louis Stock, 27, also from Hampshire, survived.

He told the inquest in Aberdare: "We were self-employed and would work buying gold and unwanted jewellery.

"We would go to towns, deliver leaflets and buy any unwanted gold.

"On the day of the crash the sun was shining and we'd had a good day at work.

"It was so good by 2.30pm I decided our profits were satisfactory so we could finish early.

'Waking up'

"We went to a pub on the Porthcawl seafront and each had a pint."

He told the hearing that the group split up to go drinking in Porthcawl, Bridgend county, before Mr Mackley picked them up.

Tests later showed Mr Mackley had 124 microgrammes of alcohol in his blood. The legal drink driving limit is 80.

Mr Stock said: "I got into the back of the car in the middle and the next thing I remember is waking up in hospital."

The crash happened near Grove Golf Club at South Cornelly, just before midnight.

A witness to the aftermath reported "total devastation" and "complete carnage" with the car in two separate pieces 25m apart after hitting a tree on the opposite side of the road in which it had been travelling.

'Steering or speed'

South Wales Police accident investigator Pc Michael Cooper told the hearing speed was a likely factor in the crash.

Coroner Mr Maddox said: "It seems likely the driver lost control of the car through a steering manoeuvre or excess speed.

"It was an unwitnessed event and we'll never really know what happened."

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